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Wed November 25 2020

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County council scraps Ipswich bridge plans

23 Jan 19 Suffolk County Council has scrapped plans to build two new bridges and refurbish a third across the River Orwell in Ipswich and is looking again at cheaper options.

The main crossing has been scrapped but work may continue on the smaller elements of the scheme
The main crossing has been scrapped but work may continue on the smaller elements of the scheme

A recent review of costs determined that the project would cost £139m, rather than than £97m originally budgeted.  

The council has not been able to find the extra £43m it needs.

“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,” said council leader Matthew Hicks. “We have exhausted all funding opportunities including the Department for Transport, HM Treasury, local businesses and other stakeholders.” 

The Upper Orwell Crossings project proposed the construction of: a new road crossing to the south of the Wet Dock Island to connect the east and west banks, called Crossing A; a new road crossing to connect the west bank to the Wet Dock Island, called Crossing B: and refurbishment an existing swing bridge over the Prince Philip Lock (Crossing C) for use by cyclists and pedestrians only.

Crossing A is now canned, but the smaller B and C crossings remain alive. The council cabinet will decide whether to continue with Corssing B and C at a meeting on 29th January.

However, if they do move forward, they will have to do so without the £77.5m made available by the Department of Transport for the previous scheme, as this funding commitment was for the improvements in transport delivered by the single span main bridge – namely Crossing A.

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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 £10.8 million which respects the overall commitment we made in 2016 towards the local contribution, less the costs incurred to date.”

The Upper Orwell Crossings project started in 2015 with initial estimated project costs being £96.6m for three bridges across the River Orwell in Ipswich.

In October 2018, following concerns about the overall cost of the scheme to build three bridges in Ipswich, the council paused the project whilst the costs were independently assessed.

Consulting engineer Jacobs 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. 

Since then, the council has tried and failed to secure the additional £43.2m needed to proceed.

Cabinet is due to make its decision on Tuesday 29 January 2019.

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