Third crossing budget hits £100m as council asks for £8m wriggle room

The proposed design for the Lake Lothing Third Crossing, pictured with the bridge down. Picture: WSP.

The proposed design for the Lake Lothing Third Crossing, pictured with the bridge down. Picture: WSP. - Credit: Archant

The new Lake Lothing crossing could go over its original budget with council documents warning it could cost up to £100m.

The original budget for the Lowestoft project included £73.39m from the Department for Transport and £18.34m from Suffolk County Council (SCC).

In papers for SCC's cabinet meeting on June 19, however, it was revealed there is already 'upward pressure' on the budget with additional funding of £8m to compensate being requested, bringing the total budget to almost £100m.

The extra £8m was described by a spokesman as akin to 'extending our credit limit', saying that while costs may go up for land purchasing and compensation, the council are also confident of balancing the books through construction savings.

This additional money is to allow for any possible overspend in the current budget if costs or savings are wrongly estimated.

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The extra funding brings the total possible local contribution towards the project to £26.34m, with the final decision on additional money to be made prior to the award of the stage two construction contract in August next year.

However, papers going to cabinet next week added any additional money needed at the bridge's completion would need to be provided by SCC under the terms of their funding agreement with the Government.

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It says the Government contribution is capped, with the promoting council, SCC, liable for any additional cost.

This means SCC would be liable for any overspend above the £100m budget but it is understood the council are confident of sticking within the original budget of just under £92m.

SCC leader Matthew Hicks, who was in Lowestoft as part of the council's We Are Listening events, said: 'The third crossing is clearly improving infrastructure and improving access to the town.

'We are now bringing forward a paper to cabinet just to push that project forward but also to allow us and make us aware that if there is an overspend of up to £8m we have that flexibility.

'But I am assured the chance of us using that is hopefully will be slim and my colleague Richard Smith who is the cabinet member for finance I am sure will be managing it very carefully.'

Construction is due to start in late 2019/early 2020 with the bridge planned to be open by 2022.

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