Guided bus going off the rails after structural threat discovered

November 18, 2009 11:50 AM
Kilian Bourke

Kilian Bourke

The multi million pound guided busway project is going off the rails after workmen discovered a structural threat to a crucial part of the network.

A design fault has been discovered on the St Ives viaduct which will lead to water damage and it has thrown the whole project into complete turmoil.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been told rainwater pouring off the raised section of track on the viaduct could damage the structure and lead to it crumbling in future years.

The news, uncovered by the Liberal Democrats, could leave the project facing a crippling six month delay with the opening of the busway postponed until at least the spring.

Furious Cambridge Lib Dems have accused the county council of hiding the truth while offering simple "snagging issues" as a reason for the delay.

Lib Dems' highways spokesman, Kilian Bourke said: "What are the Conservatives playing at? Only yesterday they were forced to admit that the November deadline is dead in the water and claimed that this was due to minor 'snags'. Now it emerges that the St. Ives' viaduct - a vital link in the busway - has a design fault and work will have to be done to make it safe, work which is expected to drag on into April."

"November one day; April the next. Minor 'snags' yesterday, fundamental structural defects today. The public are being treated like mugs. The county council's spin machine has been taking them for a ride. One has to ask, should the local taxpayer really be subsidising the Tory press machine to the tune of £550,000 per year, when its principal function is to pull the wool over the public's eyes?

"The Conservatives have a lot of explaining to do."

"This is appalling," said Cambridge Transport Area Joint Committee chair, Kevin Wilkins. "The county council has known that there is a major engineering problem with this whole project and yet they have decided to keep the truth under wraps.

"We have been asking for answers continually and have been given assurances that the whole process is held up by a few simple snagging issues. Now we discover that this is not true and the problems run far deeper and are much more serious."

Cambridge City Executive Cllr Clare Blair said: "It is appalling that the county council has been keeping this secret.

"Cambridge residents have put up with all the disruption this busway has caused surely they deserve to be told what is going on. The Tories should be held accountable for their actions over this."

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