Haughley Bends cost spiralling - Tories

HIGHWAYS Agency bosses last night defended the escalating costs of improving the notorious Haughley Bends stretch of the A14 - which have leapt by £22 million from the original estimates.

By John Howard

HIGHWAYS Agency bosses last night defended the escalating costs of improving the notorious Haughley Bends stretch of the A14 - which have leapt by £22 million from the original estimates.

Conservatives have revealed that road schemes planned for the UK have soared hugely over budget, including the A14 Haughley Bends improvements.

The estimated cost of improving this notorious stretch of the A14 near Stowmarket has soared from £10 million in 2001 to £32 million today, and Conservatives say the Government is incapable of managing improvements at a cost the country can afford.


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And the Tories say that the Government's current road-building projects are running £1.5 billion over budget.

Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that of the 112 road improvements promised since 1997, only 32 have been delivered.

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He added that, according to recent Government figures, the projected costs on the 80 still to be completed schemes had already risen by £1.5 billion above original estimates.

Mr Grayling said: “This is further evidence that the Government is failing to get good value for money from its transport budget.

“It appears that they are simply not capable of delivering the improvements we need at the price we can afford.

“Only a fraction of the new roads promised have been delivered and now we see that the projects are massively over budget.

“It is extraordinary how the estimates given only a short time ago have rocketed by millions of pounds.”

The A14 road improvements, which could start next year, will create a new route to eliminate the bends from the A14 where there have been many serious accidents.

And a spokeswoman for the Government's Highways Agency insisted that the A14 Haughley New Street to Stowmarket improvements were not over budget.

She said that costs in 2001 were for a shorter scheme and the preferred route announced in March 2004 provided higher benefits, improved safety, and less disruption to road users and local residents during construction.

The agency said that that the current £32 million estimate also includes inflation and higher land costs.

She said: “Nationally, the Highways Agency regularly reviews the forecast costs of schemes in the strategic roads programme.

“If the target costs increase, the scheme is independently reappraised against strict criteria to ensure that it still delivers good value.

“Our new approach means we have a better grip on likely final costs and can act immediately to tackle potential cost increases, rather than react afterwards when we get bigger bills.''

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