Kier dropped from King's Dyke, Whittlesey, crossing project and it's back to the drawing board for county council to find someone willing to build it

PUBLISHED: 13:04 18 July 2019

Kings Dyke: The route bypasses the existing road and is reached through roundabouts at both ends of the road. At the highest point the bridge would be 9.2m above the ground (the height of the traffic would be up to an additional 2.5 metres above bridge railings. Now it is subject to more delays. Picture: ARCHANT

Kings Dyke: The route bypasses the existing road and is reached through roundabouts at both ends of the road. At the highest point the bridge would be 9.2m above the ground (the height of the traffic would be up to an additional 2.5 metres above bridge railings. Now it is subject to more delays. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

A quote by Kier to build the King's Dyke crossing project at Whittlesey they had designed has been rejected by Cambridgeshire County Council.

The construction giant finally put in their revised price yesterday but within hours it had been rejected by the county council.

Council leader Steve Count said: "It is a shame that we have been forced to wait so long to receive a price that is so clearly out of line with earlier and even revised expectations."

He said: "I am clear we should not now proceed with Kier as we cannot agree this final revised cost which has considerably increased.

"My view is the quickest way now to get this much needed crossing and bridge built would be to re-procure the work on the same route.

"I will now ask the economy and environment committee to consider the options available and agree the best way to proceed, considering both time and spend."

Cllr Count added: "The King's Dyke crossing project is vital for the people in Fenland and will remove the delays at the A605 level crossing.

"We will continue to work closely with the Combined Authority and agree a way forward, which means this project will continue at pace."

King's Dyke project will be discussed at the economy and environment committee on August 15. "

A council spokesman said officers and members remained committed to finding a solution for delivery of this scheme "eagerly awaiting a final design and price from Kier for consideration.

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"This arrived yesterday evening, four months past the agreed date despite continued and significant pressure".

The Kings Dyke crossing project was started before the formation of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and had originally been given a completion figure of £13.6 million.

The much needed scheme - which would end the long delays for motorists at the level crossing - is being run by Cambridgeshire County Council which received a £16.4 million bail-out from the county's mayoral authority last year after the projected cost more than doubled to nearly £30 million.

Recently it was reported that the project needed an additional £8.7 million to take the total projected cost of the Whittlesey crossing to almost £39 million.

That figure could now be subject to upwards revision depending on which contractor finally wins the contract to build the replacement bridge and crossing that Kier designed.

A special investigation earlier this week by this newspaper suggested that Kier had encountered issues over Star Pit, Whittlesey, which is on the edge of the proposed new crossing and where piling costs could be considerably higher than anticipated.

The company was given a two stage design and build contract, with the expectation the former would lead to the latter.

However key figures within the county council indicated in recent months that Kier, facing pressures nationwide on several fronts, no longer felt able to deliver a realistic price to build the bridge they had designed.

Mayor James Palmer is angling, not always behind the scenes, to wrest control of the project from the council.

"If Cambridgeshire County Council feels the Combined Authority is better placed to take on this scheme, they need to tell us immediately," he said.

"But we're not just here for them as a financial 'safety-net' when their incredibly poor management of this project gets them into trouble. Either let the Combined Authority take over or get the project completed within budget, but clearly things need to change."

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