The cost to construct a new roundabout at the intersection of North and Sanford roads has blown out by more than $1 million even before a tender was awarded for the project. At its final meeting of 2023, Albany’s council backed increasing the budget for the Range Road roundabout from $1,640,368 to $2,727,976 before it endorsed awarding of the contract. Acting chief executive Paul Camins told the Advertiser the scope of the project originally included in the budget had been expanded to include construction of the roundabout as a result of savings on the Barnesby Link last year. “Despite greater-than-anticipated savings, insufficient budget remains for the additional scope due to underestimated service diversion costs and ongoing increases in construction expenses,” he said. The council was briefed about the increased cost in the week before the December 19 ordinary council meeting. Cr Paul Terry told council the extra cost “raised my eyebrows” when it was first presented, but that most of the funding for the project had been sourced from a Federal government program. He said the work needed to be done and that “the cost would probably only go up further and further if we delay it another year or two or more”. “When we got the increased costing and had a briefing about it last Tuesday, the question was raised if traffic lights would be better?” he said. “We received a response that lights would actually be a lot more expensive and also that it probably wouldn’t be supported by our community. “We did consider other options, the intersection does need to get fixed, we just need to get on with it.” At December’s meeting, Cr Robert Sutton and Cr Craig McKinley both echoed that costs for the project would continue to rise the longer it took to start it. “It’s an absolutely vital part in the next cog of our development and, if nothing else, it will eliminate what regularly comes up as one of the most dangerous intersections in Albany,” Cr Sutton said. Cr Lynn MacLaren was the only councillor to vote against the additional funding allocation for the roundabout’s construction. She said she was concerned about the timing of the request for the extra funding for a “very, very expensive roundabout” and that she “wondered if this is a good use of ratepayers’ money”. “I know we need to fix that intersection, I’m not speaking against that,” she said. Mr Camins said construction of the roundabout is expected to start in February, with a targeted mid-year completion date. “Efforts will be made to minimise construction impact (on road users), and the recently completed accessway, Barnesby Link, connecting Barnesby Drive to Barker Road, will function as an alternative route during the construction period,” he said.