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Ipswich three bridge project to be scrapped as costs soar

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Plans to build three bridges across Ipswich’s River Orwell are set to be scrapped, after Suffolk County Council failed to secure additional funding to cover soaring costs. 

Cabinet papers reveal that attempts to secure extra funding for the Upper Orwell Crossings project had failed, and that local politicians wanted stop to the project. The council’s cabinet is expected to formally ratify calls to stop the bridge project at a council meeting next week. 

The Upper Orwell Crossings project started in 2015, with its cost originally priced at £96.6M. However, an internal review by the council last year said that this figure “could increase significantly”, which led Suffolk County Council pausing the project.

Costs were then reassessed later in 2018 and were independently verified by consultant Jacobs. It confirmed that there had been an increase in costs to up to £139.8M due to a range of factors such as ground investigation costs, changes in the post-consultation bridge design and unforeseen procurement costs. 

The centrepiece of the project had been an road bridge with separate cantilevered walkways.

Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said: “It is very disappointing that we have been unable to secure any additional funding for the Upper Orwell Crossings and that the existing project will have to stop with immediate effect.

“We have exhausted all funding opportunities including the Department for Transport, HM Treasury, local businesses and other stakeholders.”

Hicks added: “Suffolk County Council remains fully committed to the future development and continued success of our county town.

“To reiterate this commitment, we are still prepared to commit financially towards the costs of building the two smaller bridges, providing we can find significant funding partners to work with us and up to a maximum of £10.8M which respects the overall commitment we made in 2016 towards the local contribution, less the costs incurred to date.”

Architect Foster & Partners was responsible for drawing up designs for the main bridge project .

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