‘This will solve the problem of Ely’ £36m Southern bypass to be finished by October say bosses following £13m cost increase amid ‘tricky conditions’
- Credit: Harry Rutter
Its £13million over budget and its opening is delayed to October but it was all smiles today as council chiefs showed off their jewel in the Cambridgeshire Fens, the Ely southern bypass.
TV crews and the local media were invited on site to inspect work on the bypass that Cambridgeshire County Council revealed that due to “tricky conditions”, such as floodplains and being near a national heritage site, costs have increased by £13million.
However the council say that they are working with their contractor VolkerFitzpatrick to try and minimise the extra costs.
A council spokesman said: “The new bypass is being built across an area of poor ground conditions, which have been even worse and more unpredictable than expected.
“Building across a flood plain and poor fenland soils has resulted in large amounts of additional work and material being needed.
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“The depth of the foundations for the river viaduct is two thirds the height of the Cathedral – much more than expected.
“Also, as Ely Cathedral is a national heritage site, a unique, specially designed viaduct needed to be created which has given the team significant challenges.
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“The viaduct will include a separate walkway allowing the public to cross the river.”
Bob Menzies, the council’s director of infrastructure and growth, said: “Everyone in Ely knows the problems at the level crossing and the low bridge and trucks coming through the level crossing.
“But this isn’t just Ely because this is the A142 road and runs all the way to Chatteris, so it’s a large part of East Cambs and Fenland.
“So it’ll make a huge difference for those people that have to queue to get through Ely.
“We are now on track for finishing by October, which is later than we said it would be; there was an issue with the bridge but it’s now going in.
The new one-mile road will link the A142 at Soham with the A10 south of Ely and will take motorists away from the city centre and remove congestion around “Britain’s most bashed bridge”.
Councillor Ian Bates, chairman of the council’s economy and environment committee, said: “This is going to bring a lot of satisfaction to the people of Ely, they’ve asked for it for about 40 odd years.
“This will solve the problem of Ely and will be a great opportunity for the future of the city, but not only that, but for the wider geography of the villages further afield.
“Construction is progressing well, with the eastern, central and western embankments built.”
Cllr Bates said: “The steel beams, weighing up to 350 tonnes each, which form the bridge decks have now been lifted into place.”
“I think Ely will be a great place to live, maybe I might even think of moving here now as it’s so nice!
“By the river bridge there will be a platform for people to stand and look at the cathedral – this is a great opportunity for the people of Ely to actually prove and demonstrate that what they ask for has now been delivered.
“I think the opportunities are with the town councils and the district councils to actually promote Ely, a lot of people come to Cambridge, why not stop off at Ely, get off at the railway station and be in a better environment.”