Tuesday, January 24, 2006

OK - just for fun, let's start with the infamous Thickthorn Roundabout

Cost of link road is higher than planned

Norfolk council tax payers might have to shoulder the burden of a 2.1 million pound overspend on a roundabout and link road near Norwich council bosses have revealed.

A host of additional expenses for the new Thickthorn roundabout and A 11 link road has meant the original budget for the scheme of 4.8 million pounds has burgeoned to 7.3 million.

A county council's Cabinet, which will meet on January 9, will be asked to accept a recommendation that the additional 2,150,636 pounds should come from the “capital programme for the Transport Maintenance Reserve” - with the Government paying the extra 500,000 pounds.

Adrian Gunson, Cabinet member for transport and planning, said he would also be asking for an inquiry into the Highways Agency's dealings with the council, which he believed had compounded problems.

“Obviously I am distressed by the extra cost. The recommendation in the report is that it is going to have to be met by the county,” he said.

“I hate using this argument but a lot of the problems were matters out of our control.” Extra costs include paying for winter working because construction was later than envisioned (160,000 pounds); increases identified through detailed design and contract processes (878,400 pounds); and anti-skid surfacing(220,000 pounds).

The Highways Agency, responsible for the Thickthorn roundabout, unexpectedly insisted that widened lanes were freshly resurfaced together with other edicts that were not initially clear.

A report to the Cabinet says increased demands from the agency account for about half the extra costs. Mr Gunson added, “The money has not been wasted, it has been well spent on legitimate items.

“There is an issue with the Highways Agency, which should not have been so awkward with us and there does not seem to be any way to appeal against their decisions. I shall be asking for an investigation at a higher level.”

Negotiations are taking place with the agency to secure a contribution of 500,000 pounds for the “betterment” works demanded where things have been replaced to a higher standard than before.

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