The A63 Castle Street scheme is designed to improve traffic flow between the Port of Hull, the A63 and M62 along with the wider strategic road network.
Core of the project is the improvement of the Mytongate junction in Hull city centre by lowering the A63 by seven metres to create an underpass for through traffic to keep moving. Ferensway and Commercial Road will cross the A63, creating a split-level junction. The eastbound carriageway between Princes Dock Street and Market Place will be widened from two to three lanes, and a new bridge will be built over the A63 at Porter Street.
The secretary of state for transport has finally signed off the scheme, to which Balfour Beatty was appointed by Highways England under an early contractor involvement (ECI) design and build contract way back in August 2014 – six years ago.
The value of Balfour Beatty’s contract at that time was given as £75m, but project costs have spiralled since then, with the overall budget rising from £160m in 2013 to £250m in 2017 to £355m today.
A spokesperson for Highways England explained: “The A63 Castle Street scheme is a complex project which presents a number of unique engineering challenges. These include the ground conditions at the site, the proximity of the Humber river and the work required at 237-year-old Trinity Burial Ground. Once complete, it will transform Hull with much better connection between the city centre and the retail and docks area.
“The original 2013 figure [£160m] was an estimate prior to the scheme being designed, since then costs have risen reflecting the unique nature of the project. Work starts this month on the Castle Street major project, which is due to be finished in 2025.”
He added that the revised value of Balfour Beatty's contract had yet to be finalised.
Councillor Daren Hale, portfolio holder for economic regeneration and planning at Hull City Council said: “We are thrilled to see this long-awaited projecting finally given the green light. Over the past twenty years the council has worked tirelessly alongside Highways England, our colleagues in the LEP and our local MPs to lobby for this essential upgrade and to ensure this scheme is high on the agenda for the Department for Transport.
“We are pleased that the government has finally recognised how crucial the upgrade to the A63 is, providing a key component of the city’s transport infrastructure improvement and wider long-term regeneration plans.”
Highways England senior project manager James Leeming said: “We are delighted that the decision has been signed off, and we can now look forward to delivering improvements that will genuinely transform the city. These changes will make life considerably easier for road users and pedestrians. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our plans, and I’m sure they share our delight in hearing the news we’ve been waiting for.”
Meanwhile a new foot/cycle bridge over the A63, wheeled into place by Interserve last November, will open this summer. It will connect the city centre to the marina, waterfront and fruit market.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps recently announced a new deadline of 17th July for his development consent order decision for three Highways England projects – the A63 Castle Street project plus the A303 Stonehenge and A303 Sparkford to Ilchester schemes in Wiltshire. With the A63 Castle Street project signed off on 1st June, ahead of the revised schedule, the A303 projects are next on his agenda.