Suffolk set to scrap Upper Orwell Crossings project

Suffolk County Council in eastern England is set to replace the planned construction of three bridges in Ipswich with a smaller scheme involving two crossings.

A new report has confirmed that the current project is unaffordable.

The council had paused work on the Foster-designed Upper Orwell Crossings project while Jacobs carried out an independent review of costs (link opens in new tab).

The new report says that extensive work to secure additional financial backing for the three bridges project has been unsuccessful. It recommends that the existing project is stopped, and that instead the council should work with partners to deliver two of the crossings.

The council is due to make its decision on 29 January 2019.

Councillor Matthew Hicks said: "Suffolk County Council remains fully committed to the future development and continued success of our county town. To reiterate this commitment, we are still prepared to commit financially towards the costs of building the two smaller bridges, providing we can find significant funding partners to work with us and up to a maximum of £10.8 million [US$13.7 million] which respects the overall commitment we made in 2016 towards the local contribution, less the costs incurred to date.”

He added: “It is very disappointing that we have been unable to secure any additional funding for the Upper Orwell Crossings and that the existing project will have to stop with immediate effect. We have exhausted all funding opportunities including the Department for Transport, HM Treasury, local businesses and other stakeholders.” 

The Upper Orwell Crossings project started in 2015 with initial estimated project costs being US$122 million for three bridges across the River Orwell in Ipswich. Costs were reassessed in 2018 and were independently verified by Jacobs, which confirmed an increase in costs of up to US$177 million due to a range of factors including ground investigation costs, changes in bridge design post consultation and unforeseen procurement costs.