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Council confirms plan to correct busway “defects”

Cambridgeshire County Council yesterday published a report that confirmed it intends to appoint a new contractor to correct what it says are “defective works” by its guided busway contractor Bam Nuttall, if both parties continue to fail to come to an agreement.

At a meeting on 14 December the council’s cabinet members will be asked to approve fixing some of the outstanding “defects” once the route is handed over to the council.

The work the council now expects another contractor to carry out includes an expansion joint for a viaduct, adjustments to levels of a car park and a cycleway (see box).

The council said it and the bus operator want the problems fixed before bus services begin because the track would need to close again once it had opened.

The move comes despite early indications that the two parties had resolved issues that the council raised publically in March. Bam Nuttall chief executive Stephen Fox held talks with the council’s chief executive Mark Lloyd at the time and a joint statement was issued.

“Actions have been agreed by both parties, commencing with early technical meetings this week, which if carried through, should lead to the resolution of the issues,” said the statement.

But the council has accused the contractor of backtracking and to now say that the works are not defective.

The council intends to deduct the cost of the disputed works from the 5% of the contract value that is being held back from Bam Nuttall (called retention) that should be paid to the firm upon completion.

Since February 2009 the council has also been deducted almost £14,000 a day from BAM Nuttall for late delivery – the project was originally scheduled for completion by January 2009. It said the total is expected to exceed £9M by the time Bam Nuttall completes the £117M scheme.

Examples of the disputed work

An expansion joint included in BAM Nuttall’s original design proposal, but not installed by the contractor, at the River Great Ouse viaduct will be fitted to stop water and de-icing salt leaking onto the steel below the bridge that would risk damage to the bridge structure.

Adjustments to the levels of the car park surface and drainage at the St Ives Park and Ride are also needed because water currently collects on the car park BAM Nuttall designed and built.

Council plans are also underway to adjust flooded sections of the cycleway between Swavesey and St Ives, but the work on site will not be able to begin until the cycleway has dried out in the summer. To warn people that parts of the path next to the guideway are flooded, and therefore closed, additional gates will be installed at the entrances to the defective sections with clear warning signs.

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