Suffolk County Council is to stop work on the Upper Orwell Crossing after ground investigation costs, changes in bridge design and unforeseen procurement costs, have spiralled.
In a report, Suffolk County Council has explained how it tried to unsucessfully secure additional financial backing for the three bridges project in Ipswich and recommends that the project is stopped.
In October 2018, following concerns about the overall cost of the scheme to build three bridges, Suffolk County Council paused the project whilst the costs were independently assessed by Jacobs. It was found that an additional £43.2M would be needed for the project to proceed.
The Upper Orwell Crossings project started in 2015 with initial estimated project costs of £96.6M for three bridges across the River Orwell. Costs were reassessed in 2018 and were independently verified by Jacobs who confirmed an increase in costs of up to £139.8M due to a range of factors including ground investigation costs, changes in bridge design post consultation and unforeseen procurement costs.
Furgo Geoservices undertook the ground investigation for the scheme in early 2018
Suffolk County councillor Matthew Hicks said: “Suffolk County Council remains fully committed to the future development and continued success of our county town. To reiterate this commitment, we are still prepared to commit financially towards the costs of building the two smaller bridges, providing we can find significant funding partners to work with us and up to a maximum of £10.8M which respects the overall commitment we made in 2016 towards the local contribution, less the costs incurred to date.
“It is very disappointing that we have been unable to secure any additional funding for the Upper Orwell Crossings and that the existing project will have to stop with immediate effect. We have exhausted all funding opportunities including The Department for Transport, HM Treasury, local businesses and other stakeholders.”
Suffolk County Council will continue to underwrite a maximum of £10.8M, the balance of their previous commitment and will require other significant local contributions to enable the project to go ahead.
Their proposed funding for the project included Department of Transport of £77.5M and a local contribution of £19.1M.
According to the County Council, the Department of Transport funding of £77.5M will not be available for building the two smaller bridges, as this funding commitment was for the improvements in transport delivered by the single span main bridge.
Suffolk County Council Cabinet is due to make its final decision on Tuesday 29 January.