Upper Orwell Crossing: £8m spent on troubled bridges plan

The plan of the three crossings Image copyright Suffolk County Council
Image caption There will be three crossings as part of the project

A new river crossings project put in doubt after costs spiralled has already had £8m spent on it, a council said.

Suffolk County Council has put the project on hold because it needs an additional to £43m to fund the Upper Orwell Crossing in Ipswich.

It had been predicted the three-bridge crossing would cost about £97m, but an independent review said it would be closer to £139m.

The council's opposition said it was a "criminal waste" of money.

The Conservative-run council said the £8m had been spent since the project got under way, following a £77m government grant.

It said work to date has included design development, extensive ground investigations and environmental and boat height surveys.

In order to find the extra cash, the council agreed to approach "significant bodies" such as the Department for Transport, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Ipswich Borough Council and the Port of Ipswich.

Image copyright Suffolk County Council
Image caption The original cost was estimated to be just under £97m

County council leader Matthew Hicks previously said the authority did not have "significant reserves" to help plug the gap and, as reported, it anticipates an £8.6m overspend this year.

Sarah Adams, leader of the council's Labour group, said: "The council has been warned time and again that pursuing this project was not a sensible approach, but, true to form, they have not listened.

"In the current economic climate, it is criminal this council can waste £8m on a white elephant whilst it cuts services to the people of Suffolk."

She said it was "clear this project is literally dead in the water".

Under the plans, there would be:

  • A major road bridge from Wherstead Road to Cliff Quay
  • A smaller bridge across the New Cut between Felaw Maltings and the island site
  • A pedestrian and cycle bridge across the lock to the wet dock

The council said it would make a decision on the future of the project by December.

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