The long-awaited Gedling Access Road has now gone almost £9 million over-budget, the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has confirmed.
The 2.4-mile (3.8km) carriageway, which should have been completed this autumn, was delayed until spring 2022 amid difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Initial estimates by the county council found the £40 million road will cost £5.4 million more than originally budgeted.
Now, however, the authority has confirmed it is more likely to hit an estimated £8.619 million overspend.
Council figures show £4.47 million of extra costs relate to Covid issues, while the remaining £4.149 million is down to “challenges” including adverse weather and unexpected site conditions, and loss of working hours.
But Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con), leader of the authority, says the “economic benefits” of the access road outweigh the final £48.619 million cost.
“Clearly we want to bring it in on-time and on-budget in an ideal world,” he said.
“But over the last 18 months, we haven’t lived in an ideal world.
“We were in a position where we could have stopped construction and delayed the whole thing, but that would have meant waiting another 18 months before it’s complete.
“But we didn’t, we chose to crack on and I think that was the right thing to do.
“Ultimately the savings and the economic benefits more than make up for the overrun and the costs.
“Obviously we’d rather it didn’t overrun but find me a major infrastructure project across the country that hasn’t cost more than expected during Covid.
“I think it’s par for the course in the times we’re in, to be honest.”
The authority is currently three months behind schedule on the overall project, which Mr Bradley said he believes is “fair enough” during a global pandemic.
“We’re still in a good place,” he added.
“I think the key thing for residents is, between improving journey times, connecting some inaccessible places, creating affordable homes and bringing forward jobs on some of the surrounding sites, it will be really important for people living around Gedling.”
Once complete, the road will link the A612 Trent Valley Road and Nottingham Road with Mapperley Plains.
It will also ease congestion through Gedling Village and unlock development at the new £140 million, 1,050-home Chase Farm scheme on the former Gedling Colliery site.
This will include office and industrial buildings, a local centre with shops and access to Gedling Country Park.
Work has already started on the first phase of 315 homes – the maximum number of houses without Gedling Access Road being in place.
The second phase will take the number of homes up to 506 before the final phase will see the site completed with the extra facilities.
The project is also expected to unlock other aspects of Gedling’s Local Plan, including 120 homes at the Linden Grove site and a further 110 at Willow Farm.
Council figures estimate the scheme, once complete, will provide benefits worth at least £73 million to the county.
The £8.619 million overspend will be funded partly through Government grants and Covid reserves, as well as the authority’s element of the National Non-Domestic Rate Pool Reserve.
Speaking last month when it was revealed the project would initially go £5.4 million overbudget, an Ashfield Independent councillor described the project’s increasing costs as a ‘debacle’.
Coun Tom Hollis also said at the time: “It is going to have an over-reaching impact across the Transport and Environment department.
“We may have the situation that planning improvements to roads in places like Huthwaite, Carsic, Blidworth and Rainworth are impacted by this huge overspend.”