Land deals, utility agreements and design issues spell delays for Wisbech junction upgrades
Upgrades to three busy junctions including Broad End Road on the A47 in Wisbech have been delayed for a variety reasons it has been revealed.
Land purchases, negotiations with utility companies and design issues have been blamed for the delays according to Cambridgeshire County council which is working on schemes to improve the local highway network, known as the 'Wisbech Access Strategy'.
Shared on social media by one of the town's county councillor's Sam Hoy a council update explains the proposed schemes aim to ensure efficient transport links to promote more economic growth in and around Wisbech and are funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
The county council plans to improve three junctions: the Broadend Road junction with the A47, Elm High Road junction with A47 and Elm High Road junction with Weasenham Lane and work was due to start on all three this year.
However, the update explains: "As with all major road schemes, issues can arise which require extra time and effort to overcome. The purpose of this note is update you on these issues, as they impact on each scheme.
"As the design has evolved for the Broad End Road junction the county council has identified that it needs more land than was originally anticipated for the junction improvements and has been working with a land agent to buy the extra land needed.
"As an alternative, the project team are exploring a modified junction design in order to avoid some land purchases. In both cases the timescale for delivery is taking longer than originally programmed.
"The Elm High Road junction changes involve works on utility company pipes and cables under the ground or above our heads. Over the past months surveys and ground investigations have been carried out to get a better understanding of the changes that need to be made to each utility to build the project. In particular, there are high voltage cables at the junction which will need to be diverted for changes to take place.
T"he county council was aware of this issue and the risk and has been dependent upon the company that owns the cables (UK Power Networks) to tell the council what work needs to be done and the size and timescales involved for their diversion works. This has taken longer than expected, and discussions are continuing to reach agreement on timescale and costs that is acceptable to both the County Council and UKPN.
"With the Elm High Road junction with Weasenham Lane the county council is working closely with land agent to purchase the land and property required for this junction improvement scheme. Some processes and timescales involved are affected by the rules brought in around the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused delays to the scheme timescale. The County Council is seeking to resolve these issues as quickly as possible to minimise delay in getting the scheme to construction.
"Initially it was expected that construction of these three projects would be under-way in early 2021, however due to these issues relating to design, utilities and land agreements delays have occurred that now require further work to be done in order to overcome them.
"The County Council is working with all stakeholders involved to resolve these issues as quickly as possible to minimise further delays getting the scheme to construction.
"Once the issues are resolved, the designs finalised and priced by the contractor for construction, an accurate programme for delivery and overall project costs will be made available."