Tendering had begun in May 2018 after Foster & Partners had won the design competition last year (links opens in new tabs).
The project - described by the council as still being in its planning stages - involves building two bridges and upgrading a third. It was originally calculated to cost US$127 million, with about three quarters of the funding coming from the government and the remainder coming from Suffolk taxpayers.
The council said that a recent internal review of costs has forecast that the total amount needed to complete the project could increase significantly. “Unless additional funding from Government can be secured, this additional money would most likely have to be found locally, either from Suffolk businesses or taxpayers,” it said.
The project will therefore be paused temporarily while the independent review is carried out by engineering specialists from Jacobs. The outcome of the review is expected in September 2018.
Councillor leader Matthew Hicks said: “Since becoming leader, I have asked my senior team to review the major infrastructure projects Suffolk County Council is working on. The Upper Orwell Crossings is one of the biggest and most complex. It’s clear to me that whilst the significant project is being managed well, there is currently some uncertainty around the costs. If we’re going to proceed and build these bridges, that uncertainty needs to be addressed right now.
“We’re going to pause work temporarily, pending the outcome of this review. Then, based on sound and independent advice and considering everything we know about the project, Suffolk County Council will make a decision on the future of the Upper Orwell Crossings.”