The leader of Suffolk County Council has commissioned engineers from Jacobs to review the construction costs of its planned Upper Orwell Crossings in Ipswich.
Based on earlier work done by Kier and WSP, among others, Suffolk county councillors had been advised that the bridges project, which is still in its planning stages, would cost £97m in total.
But a recent internal review of costs has forecast that the total amount needed to complete the project could increase significantly. The project has therefore been put on hold pending a review by Jacobs, which is expected to report in September 2018.
The original plan was that around three quarters of the £97m required would come from central government and the rest from Suffolk taxpayers. Unless additional funding from government can be secured, the additional money would have to come either from Suffolk businesses or council taxpayers.
Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said: “Since becoming leader, I have asked my senior team to review the major infrastructure projects Suffolk County Council is working on. The Upper Orwell Crossings is one of the biggest and most complex.
“It’s clear to me that whilst the significant project is being managed well, there is currently some uncertainty around the costs. If we’re going to proceed and build these bridges, that uncertainty needs to be addressed right now.
“We’re going to pause work temporarily, pending the outcome of this review. Then, based on sound and independent advice and considering everything we know about the project, Suffolk County Council will make a decision on the future of the Upper Orwell Crossings.”
The Upper Orwell Crossings project includes construction of two new bridges and refurbishment of a third.
Crossing A is a new road crossing to the south of the Wet Dock Island to connect the east and west banks. Crossing B is a new road crossing to connect the west bank to the Wet Dock Island. Crossing C is an existing swing bridge over the Prince Philip Lock, which would be refurbished for cyclists and pedestrians only.
The previous timetable envisaged contract award in January 2019, construction starting in 2020.