Cost overruns on transport projects must be investigated to safeguard the future of important routes like the Chisholm Trail

Chisholm Trail muralFollowing reports that the cost of the Chisholm Trail has risen by around £7 million from the original budget, Camcycle supports calls for a clear understanding of how local authorities manage transport projects, and a fuller public disclosure of what has caused the cost overruns. We understand that the collapse of Carillion and the Covid-19 pandemic have both delayed work and increased costs on the Chisholm Trail project, but there seems to be a pattern of cost overruns on transport – other examples being the Ely bypass at £13 million over budget and the A14 at £700 million over budget – and this urgently needs to be investigated to prevent the issue recurring.

Research from active travel charity Sustrans estimates that the current level of cycling in Greater Cambridge saves the region over £100 million a year in healthcare costs and delivers additional benefits in terms of reducing congestion and air pollution. The Chisholm Trail is widely welcomed and will help more local people to walk and cycle for everyday journeys and open up access to the city’s precious green spaces.

The Abbey-Chesterton bridge and Stourbridge Common underpass work must be completed soon as they are crucial connections in the walking and cycling network and local residents have been inconvenienced for far too long already. The Newmarket Road underpass is vital for the full benefit of the Chisholm Trail to be realised and it is essential that works on Coldham’s Common begin in the coming weeks or we risk significant delays that will then impact other sections of the Trail. The whole project should be finished as soon as possible so that local residents can make use of this new sustainable route, unlocking city-wide benefits for all.

We call on Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highway and Transport Committee to reassure us of the timescale for the remaining stages of the work and commit to increasing the budget as needed in their meeting next week. This infrastructure needs to last for generations and must be finished properly in order that everyone can reap the benefits.