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Councils row over Bristol light rail costs


CRISIS TALKS will be held in Bristol next week to resolve a row over where the city's proposed light rail scheme should terminate.

Disagreement between Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council over the proposed northern terminus of the £200M project hinges on a tunnel under the M5 that South Gloucestershire claims could add £10M to the cost.

Bristol City Council is keen to push ahead with its favoured route from the city centre terminating at Almondsbury, 16km to the north of the city.

But South Gloucestershire said this week that two separate investigations into tunnelling under the M5 to Almondsbury by consultants Mott MacDonald and JMP have highlighted 'technical difficulties'.

South Gloucestershire has since started promoting an alternative northern terminus at Cribbs Causeway 3km west of Almondsbury that would not require tunnelling under the M5.

Bristol City Council said this week that it may be prepared to adopt the Cribbs Causeway option provided South Gloucestshire shows that its proposal has been fully researched and would not endanger the project's proposed 2004 start date.

A government deadline of 31 March for all parties to agree a route has been missed, but a spokeswoman at South Gloucestershire claimed that the Government Office for the South West was being kept informed and that funding of £160M was not in jepoardy.

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