A district councillor says the taxpayer will have to stump up millions more pounds for the Grantham southern relief road following the news that the second phase will be delayed.
Coun Nick Craft says he is ‘saddened’ by the news that the start of the second phase will not start until the new year because Highways England is to undertake resurfacing works along a stretch of the A1 near the A607 junction from September.
But Coun Richard Davies, Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for highways, says Coun Craft is wrong and a delay will not mean any rise in costs.
Coun Craft, of the South Kesteven Independents, said: “It is with some sadness that I read of a further delay of the Grantham bypass, but I think with this news Lincs County Council should be looking to start phase three now instead of waiting to finish phase two in two years’ time.
“When I was involved in the planning of this road as an SKDC representative, I was told that to start phase three and phase two simultaneously would not be cost effective, but when one factors in inflation of above three per cent per annum on civil engineering on an estimated cost of £81 million (less phase 1), waiting for phase three will cost millions more of rate payers’ money.
“As the money is in place, an early start at the Old Somerby roundabout would be a sign of intent and would also stabilise costs.
“We are now being told by the new administration at SKDC, that the town needs urgent attention to make it punch it’s weight, so we cannot wait another four years at best to improve the traffic situation. I would hope that those in power would use their good offices to see that quick and cost saving action is put in place as soon as possible.”
Coun Davies said negotiations with utility companies and other bodies, including Network Rail, could lead to some delays but costs were in place and would not be affected. He insisted that this would not affect the start of phase three of the road which includes a bridge over the East Coast railway line. He said the project was still on course for completion by the end of 2019.
Coun Davies added: “I appreciate Coun Craft’s input and support over the years, and his local knowledge is invaluable. No one is more frustrated than me that Highways England is not letting us start work as soon as we’d like – we’ll be meeting with ministers in Westminster to escalate this. In the meantime, we’re exploring a number of options to get the road and bridge delivered as soon as possible.
“However, there are elements that are outside of our direct control, which will require ongoing negotiations with Network Rail and the utility companies.”