Mar. 10th, 2010

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Before the first one is open to the public, the Dunstable Busway now also gets the go-ahead - and it looks like the same contractor may be doing both! WTF?

Council blames contractor for guided bus delay

COUNCIL bosses have openly blamed contractors for the hold-up in the opening of the guided busway.

The multi-million pound transport project was supposed to bring smooth-running, regular buses from St Ives to Cambridge by January 2009.

But Cambridgeshire County Council has today, in a revelatory document which uncovers many of the major issues between it and those building the busway, said it is at loggerheads with BAM Nuttall Ltd (BNL) and legal action is inevitable.

This action could extend to 2015.

A document released by the council blames BNL for much of the delay.

A key point is the council claims the contractor refuses to accept the findings of independent inspector Atkins.

Atkins points to several defects which must be fixed before the busway is handed over. They include the St Ives Park and Ride site being built at the wrong gradient, the River Great Ouse viaduct leaking water and the maintenance track which runs alongside the busway being constantly flooded.

The document says: “The contractor is not accepting that all the items notified by the project manager are defects and so they are not being addressed.”

It adds: "The scheme is now substantially complete, but the remaining works to be done are preventing it from coming into use - in the council's view these issues are the responsibility of BNL."

The delays and repair works already undertaken have moved the cost of the busway from a target price of £87 million to an estimated final actual cost of £140 million.

That would mean BNL must pay £48,867,500 back from any profits to cover the difference while the council pays £4,132,500.

But says the council: “The cause of the increased cost is central to the disagreement between the council and the BNL. The council believes that the additional costs are the responsibility of the contractor given the risk transfer that was part of the contract, whereas the contractor believes that they are the responsibility of the council. Given the magnitude of the difference between the two parties, it now seems inevitable that these issues will only be resolved through resort to litigation.”

The documents also make it clear that the disagreements come despite constant meetings with BNL. The council cannot, it says, declare an opening time for the busway given the current problems.

Other sticking points include 120 smaller, so-called snagging issues and other, more major, defects like concerns about the busway foundations, worries about scrap tyre material used to in-fill between the busway beams and gaps between the beams being too small.

The delays and repair works already undertaken have moved the cost of the busway from a target price of £87 million to an estimated final actual cost of £140 million.

That would mean BNL must pay £48,867,500 back from any profits to cover the difference while the council pays £4,132,500.

But says the council: “The cause of the increased cost is central to the disagreement between the council and the BNL. The council believes that the additional costs are the responsibility of the contractor given the risk transfer that was part of the contract, whereas the contractor believes that they are the responsibility of the council. Given the magnitude of the difference between the two parties, it now seems inevitable that these issues will only be resolved through resort to litigation.”

The documents also make it clear that the disagreements come despite constant meetings with BNL. The council cannot, it says, declare an opening time for the busway given the current problems.

Other sticking points include 120 smaller, so-called snagging issues and other, more major, defects like concerns about the busway foundations, worries about scrap tyre material used to in-fill between the busway beams and gaps between the beams being too small.

For full, in depth coverage and reaction see tomorrow's Cambridge News.

Government funds for Bedfordshire's £80.2m busway


More than £80m in government funding to build an 8.3 mile (13.4km) guided busway in Bedfordshire has been issued.

Luton Borough and Central Bedfordshire councils have welcomed the announcement by Transport Minister Sadiq Khan.

"This enables us to proceed with appointing a main contractor for the busway between Luton and Dunstable," a spokesman said.

"Detailed design work will begin in April and site works will start in the summer for opening in spring 2012."

Roy Davis, from Luton Borough Council, said: "This is the start of a new era for dealing with the congestion problems of Luton and the surrounding conurbation.

'Boost economy'

"The Luton-Dunstable busway is the right way to resolve the difficulties we have experienced up until now."

Tom Nicols, from Central Bedfordshire Council, said: "Currently, it takes a conventional bus more than 30 minutes to do the six-mile journey from Dunstable town centre to Luton train station.

"There is also a potential risk that the journey will take much longer if there is bad traffic in the town centre.

"Services on the busway will reliably take about 15 minutes.

"Cutting journey times in half will help join up residential and development areas with business and employment, and boost the economy of Dunstable and surrounding areas."

Pictures

Mar. 10th, 2010 10:02 pm
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What do you think of the new picture, taken with the camera of Heather Martin, on Saturday? Caroline is leaning on my shoulder!

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First, read this story, from today's Courier. Then, have a read of this thread... 

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