Long-awaited King’s Dyke bypass between Whittlesey and Peterborough £16m over budget

The King's Dyke Level Crossing
The King's Dyke Level Crossing
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A long-awaited bypass which would significantly reduce commuting times between Whittlesey and Peterborough is now more than £16 million over budget.

The scheme, to build a new road and bridge over the Ely to Peterborough railway line, has a budget of £13.6 million, but this is now set to rise to just shy of £30 million, according to Cambridgeshire County Council.

This is the latest setback for the project which was previously due to be finished in late 2017/early 2018.

Even back in February this year works were due to start late autumn this year, which is now not due to happen, while in August it was reported that the road was likely to open in spring 2020, but the finishing date has now been moved back to late 2020.

An approach for the additional funding for the project has now been made to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority - the public body headed by metro mayor James Palmer.

The combined authority will consider the approach at its next board meeting on October 31.

A council report states: “The detailed design has proved that there are considerable engineering challenges that will add significant cost to the scheme.

“In addition to the contractor’s increased estimate for the detailed development and construction, increases in land and statutory undertakers’ costs over early estimates have added to the forecast cost.”

The level crossing at King’s Dyke is a constant source of delays for commuters between Whittlesey and Peterborough.

The council’s Economy and Environment Committee will on Thursday (October 11) consider the contract award for the next stage of the project and approval to finalise land purchases - subject to securing the necessary increase in funding from the combined authority.

Committee chairman Cllr Ian Bates said: “This is a much bigger venture than first imagined. Having learnt from previous projects, we’ve followed a robust process by undertaking detailed design before awarding the construction contract, to minimise the risk of cost increases during construction.

“This first phase has now been completed and verified, resulting in a number of significant changes to the initial design that have become necessary as more information from investigative groundwork and traffic surveys was gathered.

“We’ve worked with an external consultant to review the information and wholeheartedly believe that this project is of incredible value to the residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, as the scheme will support plans for transport improvements and economic growth in both areas.

“The benefits of the scheme remain high, so if the decision is approved at committee to progress to the next stage, we will be looking to the combined authority for its support as the transport authority.”

If funding is approved, the main construction activity is expected to take place in February/March, with completion expected in late 2020.