Details emerge of dumped road schemes

| Thu 21st October | 7:32

Civil engineering contractors’ relief after the Comprehensive Spending Review lasted only a few hours as a raft of scrapped road schemes was published last night by the Department for Transport.

The £1bn A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton scheme was the biggest casualty after the department ruled it was “unaffordable under any reasonable future funding scenario” and withdrew it from the Highways Agency programme.

The scheme was being worked-up by a Costain/Skanska joint venture under the Early Contractor Involvement initiative.

The other cancelled major projects worth more than £300m are:

A21 Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst

A19 Moor Farm

A19 Seaton Burn Interchange

A21 Baldslow Interchange

A21 Flimwell to Robertsbridge

A1 Leeming to Barton

A47 Blofield to North Burlingham

Capital spending by the Highways Agency will fall to a yearly low of £877m in 2013/14 from the current level of £1.57bn.

Annual maintenance spending on the national network will also fall to £714m by 2014/15 compared to spending of £748m in 2010/11.

CECA National Director Rosemary Beales said: “Contractors were aware that in order to substantially reduce the deficit transport infrastructure would have to play a part in the necessary cuts.

“It is highly regrettable, though, that schemes in which considerable time and money have already been invested are not to go ahead.

“Our road network is congested and in many parts of the country can be highly ineffective in serving business and community needs.

“The cancellation of these schemes and the cuts in roads’ maintenance also put forward by the DfT will compound this problem.”

The Department has pledged £3bn over the next four years for local authorities to maintain the local road network and has launched an efficiency drive for contractors.

But the money represents a significant cut which sees annual maintenance spending fall from the current £871m a year to £707m in 2014/15.

Its spending statement said: “With limited resources available, the Department believes that it is essential that we continue to prioritise highways maintenance, reflecting its economic and social importance to local communities and safeguarding the largest single local public asset.

“We are therefore providing over £3 billion over the next 4 years. This takes account of the significant scope for efficiencies, for example through combining purchasing power of local authorities to drive down prices.

“To help local authorities achieve these efficiencies, we will work with local government professionals to embed sector-led best practice widely, with a time-limited fund worth £3 million in each of 2011/12 and 2012/13.”

The Highways Agency schemes which escaped the axe and will go ahead are:

The A11 in Norfolk – dualling the ‘missing link’ of single carriageway, between Fiveways junction and Thetford

The M4 and M5 north of Bristol – fixing the worst congestion spot in the South West, and easing journeys to Wales

The M1 in Derbyshire (junctions 28-31) – improving access to Sheffield using managed motorways technology

The A23 in Sussex – dealing with a key bottleneck between London and Brighton

The M62 near Leeds (junctions 25-30) – adding capacity between Yorkshire and the North West using managed motorways.

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