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Local road costs shoot up

Costs for local authority road schemes have soared by 56% according to new figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT) this week.

Campaigners say the revelations will force many projects to be scrapped. Latest cost estimates for 51 local authority schemes show an overall rise from original estimates in total costs of 56% from £1.3bn to £2.1bn. The figures were released by the DfT under a freedom of information request by the Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT).

The DfT figures show that the cost of the Rugby Western Relief Road has nearly doubled from £20M to £38.5M while estimates for the New Mersey Gateway bridge project have soared from £209M to £390M.

Costs for the Bexhill to Hastings Relief Road have risen from £47.1M to £89.2M. Weymouth Relief Road's costs have risen from £54.5M to £79M.

CfBT roads campaigner Richard George said the latest figures showed that many local authority road schemes may have to be scrapped. This is because of new DfT rules which say that local authorities must make up funding shortfalls themselves if costs escalate.

"A 56% increase is a huge amount given that these projects are not that big," he said.

"It puts of lot of these schemes in jeopardy."But Matthew Lugg, chairman of the roads committee for county surveyors group CSS, said that the latest figures were misleading. He said original cost estimates were made before projects gained approval from DfT and were often up to eight years old.

"They've used the original figure before full programme entry [the point at which they receive DfT approval]," he said.

"So the figures they are comparing the latest cost estimate against often go back seven or eight years.

"The figure they should be comparing it to is the one from programme entry, which these figures show is often not that much different, so I think these figures are very misleading."

He added that local authorities should be able to negotiate with DfT for more cash in their Regional Funding Allocations.

The latest figures follow a National Audit Office report earlier this year that showed costs on seven major road schemes had soared by £1.1bn.

Click here for map of Road schemes going up in price

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