Kent County Council bid to widen A21 'at half the cost'

Talks are under way on how to deliver a road widening project that was postponed in the Spending Review.

Kent County Council (KCC) has told the government the A21 can be widened for half the cost and will draw up revised proposals in the next six weeks.

The £125m project was one of 14 put on hold by the government.

KCC said the Highways Agency drew up the original figures, but costs could be cut by changes in procurement and reviewing the engineering standards.

Road minister Mike Penning has allowed KCC full access to Highways Agency figures and any other information the council needs to complete its re-costing of the project.

Fully-costed proposal

KCC leader Paul Carter said Mr Penning had given the council "a unique opportunity" to prove its case.

He said: "Over the next six weeks, we will have full access to Highways Agency figures and officials to develop a fully-costed proposal that could at last offer hope to local businesses and local people gridlocked on the A21.

"I've long believed that new roads and public buildings could be built at much less cost if we had greater local control. I now aim to prove it."

KCC is planning to cut costs by using local procurement rather than public sector procurement.

It also wants to ensure the A21 project is not "over-engineered" but still maintains the best possible standards, a spokesman said.

The spokesman added: "It will be the same standard of carriageway, not a poorer product in any way."

The widening scheme for the stretch between Tonbridge and Pembury aims to cut delays and increase safety.

Construction had been expected to start this year, but the scheme was postponed to 2015 under the Spending Review.

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