Pledge to learn lessons from Norwich NDR overspend for Great Yarmouth third river crossing

One of the options for the third river crossing in Great Yarmouth is for a lifting, or bascule bridg

One of the options for the third river crossing in Great Yarmouth is for a lifting, or bascule bridge. Image: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

Lessons learned from building the Norwich Northern Distributor Road will be used to prevent similar issues when it comes to Great Yarmouth's third river crossing, pledge council bosses.

The £121m project for a third bridge in the town was designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project earlier this year.

Norfolk County Council is to begin consultation on plans for the crossing, starting in the middle of next month and continuing until October.

But, as members of County Hall's audit committee will hear at a meeting next week, councillors have challenged officers to learn lessons from what happened with the contract to build the Northern Distributor Road, now known as Broadland Northway.

While the final bill for that road, which stretches from the A47 at Postwick to the A1067 Fakenham Road, is not yet in, it is likely to cost close to £205m, higher than its original budget.

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The road looks likely to end up costing about £16.5m a mile, with contractors Balfour Beatty putting up the price for a number of reasons.

Those reasons included delays in getting the go-ahead to take the road over the railway line at Rackheath, the need to make design changes and extra costs for diverting utilities.

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One key difference council officers are looking to secure from the third river crossing contractors, compared to the NDR contract, is that overall design responsibility, as far as possible, will rest with them.

There will also be 'robust management' of third parties to make sure issues are dealt with as early as possible, while risk will be 'actively managed throughout the development and delivery of the project'.

Council officers are hoping they will be able to award the contract later this year.

In terms of the planning process, there will need to be a six month examination by the Planning Inspectorate, with the secretary of state having three months after that to decide whether to grant a Development Consent Order.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £98m for the bridge scheme, with the county council needing to come up with the rest of the money.

The council hopes work will start in October 2020 and the road and bridge will be open by January 2023.

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