Funding of more than £16 million for a desperately needed bypass between Peterborough and Whittlesey is set to be approved.
It comes after the estimated cost for the new road and bridge at the King’s Dyke Level Crossing has more than doubled from £13.6 million to around £30 million, with the project now three years behind schedule.
A rise in land acquisition and construction costs has forced Cambridgeshire County Council to ask the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CA) for the additional £16.4 million funding to make sure the bypass can be built.
This would reduce delays at the level crossing which is currently closed up to 23 minutes an hour, with that set to get worse in future years due to an increased use of freighter and passenger trains.
The CA, a public body given responsibility for major infrastructure and housing projects, including the new University of Peterborough, is headed by metro mayor James Palmer.
It is recommended to approve the extra funding at its next board meeting in Peterborough on Wednesday.
A report to be discussed by cabinet members states: “Current delays and costs are clearly impacting on local business and commuters, making the Whittlesey area less attractive for new business and homes.
“Given the limited routes serving Whittlesey, improving accessibility between Peterborough and Whittlesey by removing the delay and costs caused by the level crossing will not only facilitate growth as detailed in the local plan, but has considerable potential to encourage development over and above that currently forecast.”
The bypass becomes more needed due to planned growth in Whittlesey, including near the level crossing.
The increase in costs follows detailed design work from Kier. The extra money is needed due to:
. Additional strengthening of the route adjacent to the brick pit.
. Reassessment of land costs from agricultural to industrial land value.
. A “robust” understanding of ground conditions following surveys.
Any under or overspend of the budget would be split 40/60 between the county council and CA.
It is anticipated that funding will come from the CA’s £74 million allocation from the Transforming Cities Fund.
The current timeline for the project anticipates construction beginning in February or March next year, with the bypass opening in late 2020.
The report adds: “It is unfortunate that the increased costs position has arisen at this late stage as, with the land purchases needing to conclude in the very near future, there is little opportunity to redeem the position in a structured manner.
“In evaluating the position there is clearly betterment for major local industrial companies located adjacent to King’s Dyke for whom both logistics and access will be much improved.
“Similarly, Network Rail will see a significant de-bottlenecking of their network, but it is not clear that, having funded the scheme, that any additional capacity will be made available to the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”