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Cambridgeshire suspension bridge set to be scrapped after budget balloons

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Councillors look set to bin plans for a suspension bridge in Cambridgeshire, based on designs by Knight Architects, after projected costs almost doubled

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee last month resolved to ask the authority’s board to cancel construction of the St Neots Foot and Cycle Bridge, which had been due to start on site this year.

Knight submitted a site analysis and options study for the crossing in summer 2018 and councillors chose a suspension bridge a few months later.

In spring 2019, engineering consultancy WSP won the contract to design the crossing, which it said would be based on Knight’s suspension bridge concept.

But a recent report to the council’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee, which is set to meet next on 29 April, revealed the expected cost of the project had soared from £4.6 million in summer 2018 to £7.4 million in latest estimates.

The council added that a review had shown there were limited opportunities to bring this cost down through value engineering.

‘This review also demonstrated that the increase in costs had resulted in a benefit:cost ratio of less than one,’ added the committee report.

’Consequently, the project no longer meets the requirements of the combined authority’s value for money assessment criteria. Moreover, the low ratio makes further bids for monies unviable for the combined authority and its partners. Therefore, funding is not available from other sources to close the funding gap.’

The project seems doomed for the scrapheap, with its budget reallocated to other local schemes.

Knight Architects said in a statement: ’After July 2018, Knight Architects was not involved in subsequent stages [of this project], including the development of the preliminary design, and cannot comment in detail on the cancellation of the project or its costs.

’We are nevertheless sorry to see the demise of a potential new river crossing in the town, which was well supported by public and stakeholders alike, as we firmly believe good bridge design improves quality of life and brings people together, forging connections, driving economies and helping to define an enduring sense of place.’ 

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Readers' comments (3)

  • that looks like a tied arch bridge, not a suspension bridge....

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  • Simon Devlin

    We live in St Neots and from the beginning felt this was a white elephant scheme that was totally unnecessary and not thought through by the powers that be. The bridge was not necessary and would not have aided the town as a whole it was done to show the residents 'look what you could have' rather than what you need. There needs to be a clear strategy for reducing the traffic through and around the town, and this will be aided once a local by-pass is built.

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  • ...those images are definitely not showing a suspension bridge..

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