THE cost of the long-delayed and secretive A13 road widening scheme soared to more than £147 million – 51 per cent higher than the expected cost, it has emerged.
The A13 Stanford-le-Hope bypass has been widened from two to three lanes in both directions, from the junction with the A128 Orsett Cock roundabout.
A report says the cost of the scheme now totals £147.4 million and the cash-strapped council will have to pay £49.6 million for the overspend.
The original budget forecast for the project, approved by cabinet in 2014, was £90million, funded wholly from external grants and other external contributions.
This budget forecast was later increased, with the addition of a further grant from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, to £97.8m.
In December 2016, the council was told the financial risk of the project rested with the council and that any additional spend above the revised figure, would have to be met by the council.
The overspend has been funded by Thurrock Council through “prudential borrowing”. The borrowing will incur a yearly charge and the additional cost will be £1.44million per annum for 40 years for the council which currently has a £1.3 billion debt.
The scheme began in 2014 and was beset by delays.
Last week councillors who questioned the delays and the rising costs said they were kept in the dark but the recently published Best Value Report by Government appointed commissioners shows cabinet members in the Conservative administration, were aware of the problems.
A report to cabinet, which will meet on Wednesday (,12 July) says: “The main issue was that original scheme costings were based on a preliminary design and certain detailed design elements of the scheme were either not included or underestimated, such as the utilities diversion works and drainage; which turned out to be significant additional costs.
“Whilst forecasted contingencies, based on the preliminary design, were included in the original forecast, these were inadequate given the variance between the original forecast and the projected outturn.
“The lack of understanding of the ground conditions also resulted in significant costs being incurred, this was a particular problem in the construction of the Orsett Bridge roundabout.”
The report adds the scheme reduced congestion and resultant pollution, improve journey times and support further economic growth not only in Thurrock but across the whole south Essex corridor.