Council and Department differ on bypass cost

Simon Brouder

One of the country's most senior civil servants - whose Department oversees State spending - has told a Dáil hearing on the National Children's Hospital details about the cost of the Tralee bypass that vary significantly from information given to a State spending watchdog by Kerry County Council (KCC).

While KCC reported last May that the bypass cost €93.3 million the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was told this month that the road cost €73.4 million.

The PAC is currently looking into the cost overruns at the National Children's Hospital and as part of their investigation are examining other major capital projects including the Tralee bypass.

Secretary General of the Department of Expenditure and Reform Robert Watt appeared before the committee earlier this month to give evidence on his Department's financial oversight of the Children's Hospital project.

Mr Watt highlighted several projects, including the Tralee bypass, that "have been delivered on time and on budget."

Mr Watt said the Tralee bypass "was completed on time and at a cost of €73.4 million, which is under budget."

The figure provided to the PAC appears to be at odds with the most recent costing for the entire Tralee bypass project - including its construction, design and the purchase of the required lands - that was included in a Quality Assurance Report submitted to the State's National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) by Kerry County Council last year.

In their submission to NOAC KCC listed the Tralee bypass as having incurred a cost of €93,380,000 which came from various State grants.

KCC have provided the following statement on the matter The Kerryman.

"The €93,380,000 figure quoted in the NOAC Quality Assurance Report submitted by Kerry County Council was the total overall budget cost for the scheme. In other words, this was the total budget allocated for the scheme by Transport Infrastructure Ireland to include all costs, for example, design, land purchase and construction."

"This figure was determined a number of years in advance of the project being tendered for construction. This figure does not reflect the final outturn of expenditure on the scheme. Evidence given at the Public Accounts Committee on March 7 relates to the final cost of the project and, as the Secretary General of the Department, indicated represents a final cost for the project was significantly under budget," said a KCC spokesperson.