Date: Saturday 5th November 2005

THE cost of building the Temple Sowerby bypass has soared by £16.3 million to almost £40 million.

Transport minister Stephen Ladyman announced this week that, following a review of costs, a budget for the scheme had been set at £39.6 million.

A Highways Agency spokesman said yesterday that the 70 per cent. rise was due to three factors: Higher than anticipated inflation in construction costs; the need for an improved drainage system following flooding of the River Eden earlier this year; and escalation in the cost of earthworks following further “geo-technical” investigations.

Villagers of Temple Sowerby campaigned for several decades for the A66 to be diverted around the village. Currently thousands of vehicles pass through every day, hundreds of them heavy goods vehicles. Though the scheme was first approved in 2002, it was delayed in early 2004. Later that year residents learned that cash had been set aside for the project which was expected to start before the end of 2005. In March, Skanska Construction Ltd. was appointed to carry out the work.

The Highways Agency spokesman said: “Before the start of construction we review the costs with the contractor to agree a budget. This has taken longer than originally programmed, leading to a delay to the start of work, but work is expected to start early in 2006.

“The cost of the bypass has increased from £23.3 million to £39.6 million.”

However, he stressed that Mr. Ladyman’s announcement confirmed the Government’s continuing commitment to delivering the Temple Sowerby bypass.