Kingsford Smith Drive project sees $47 million cost blowout

“Are Brisbane ratepayers picking up the bill for what, according to these publicly available documents, appears to be a $47 million blowout in this project?” Cr Cumming asked.

Cr Quirk said he had always been open about the projected total cost of the project as being $650 million, and he had publicly detailed the issues with the project late last year.

“The Kingsford Smith Drive project, there have been some issues and I’ve announced what those issues are,” he said.

“They are in relation to … the retaining wall on the river itself, and they need to be stabilised to a better degree than they are currently.”

The Australian Financial Review reported on Monday that Lendlease’s engineering and services division had lost $218 million in the year ending June 30, citing two major Brisbane projects — the Gateway Upgrade North and the Kingsford Smith Drive — and a Sydney’s NorthConnex as driving those losses.

Cr Quirk said all major projects had a contingency fund set aside to cover any unexpected financial shortfall, and while some projects such as the Telegraph Road project were completed under budget, others were not.

“When it comes to Kingsford Smith Drive, I suspect that there will be very little, if any, by way of contingency saved,” he said.

“That’s why contingency is held against each and every project and some cases that contingency is needed, in other cases that contingency is not needed.

“We know in this particular project it will be needed and that is the reality.”

Opposition infrastructure spokesman Steve Griffiths said he knew the total cost of the contingency funds but due to commercial-in-confidence couldn’t release the figure.

“Not only has Lendlease over-run by $47 million but the lord mayor has warned there’s more to come,” he said.

“That’s $47 million ratepayers won’t get back with worse to come. The lord mayor admitted we’ve hit the worst-case scenario and the contingency fund would be all but spent.”

Lucy is the urban affairs reporter for the Brisbane Times, with a special interest in Brisbane City Council.

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