Ely bypass bill goes up by £13 million
A county council is to borrow millions of pounds to fund the spiraling cost of a new bypass.
Cambridgeshire County Council will borrow the extra £13 million contractors need to complete the Ely Southern Bypass.
It brings the total project costs from £36 million to £49 million for the road connecting Angel Drove to Stuntney Causeway.
This has included building foundations for the river bridge part of the bypass that are two thirds the height of Ely Cathedral.
Builders said that ‘tricky conditions’ caused the cost hike. They blamed poor ground conditions, which had been worse than surveyors expected.
The complications have also meant that the opening date for the new bypass has slipped from late summer to October.
The new route will remove the need for lorries to use the railway level crossing and avoid the accident-prone low bridge.
Cllr Ian Bates, chairman of the county council’s economy and environment committee, said that the scheme would combat congestion in the city.
“Although this increase in costs is disappointing, we are clear the costs would have been much the same if we had waited, but we wanted to push ahead and get the road built as soon as possible.
“If we had not taken that decision, the project would have been delayed for a further 12 to 18 months and funding may have been lost.”
But the cost increase has been criticised by Cllr John Williams, lead member of the Liberal Democrat group for the economy and environment committee.
“The unique engineering design of the bridge should have been assessed for the poor ground conditions found in the Fens and I am not aware of any risk assessment having been done,” he said.
Cllr Williams also attacked Mayor James Palmer’s criticism of the time taken to start the bypass which he claimed ‘has cost taxpayers dear’.
Mr Palmer said: “I make no apologies in my former role as leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council for pressing to get this project delivered as quickly as possible for Ely.”