St Ives-Cambridge: Breakthrough on guided bus stalemate

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:24 08 June 2010

A BREAKTHROUGH on the Guided Busway was announced on Tuesday, March 16 which should prevent cyclists using the maintenance track from having to wear waders. And a new date for the opening of the northern section of the scheme could be annou

A BREAKTHROUGH on the Guided Busway was announced on Tuesday, March 16 which should prevent cyclists using the maintenance track from having to wear waders.

And a new date for the opening of the northern section of the scheme could be announced next month, if things go according to plan.

Last week, Cambridgeshire County Council said it was unwilling to accept the busway from its contractors BAM Nuttall while there were still six defects.

It revealed in a report that it would not accept the bus while:

- Parts of the maintenance/cycle track are under water for long periods of the year

- The St Ives park and ride site is hampered by standing water and drainage issues

- The viaduct over the River Ouse leaks, allowing water onto the steelwork below

- There is no design information about the alternative foundations which were used

- A risk assessment is completed on material being used between the tracks

- There is proof that the gaps between the beams are capable of allowing for expansion

However, following negotiations between CCC and Nuttall it was announced that the parts of the maintenance track affected by the flooding problems would be rebuilt and raised up.

A joint statement from CCC and Nuttall said: "CCC and BNL have agreed that these areas need to be raised, a process that will require liaison with the Environment Agency because of flood storage issues in the flood plain.

"The good news is that any work on this could be carried out while the Busway is operational, so the work, which needs drier conditions, will not prevent the Busway opening."

The stalemate could also be over in the other areas of the scheme where there were problems.

BAM Nuttall looks to have moved away from its stance of doing nothing and denying the problems with the busway were items it should repair under the contract.

CCC has said that Nuttall should carry out the repair work and argue later, in the courts, who should pick up the bill - as well as the how the huge overspend should be shared.

Further technical meetings are planned between CCC and Nuttall to negotiate solutions to the remaining five areas the council wants to see fixed - or at least an agreed solution in place - before accepting the northern section of the project.

The joint statement added: "CCC and BAM Nuttall wish to see the busway operational as soon as possible and have agreed to use the procedures laid out in the contract to progress the outstanding issues.

"Provided there is the expected progress during the coming weeks, both parties are hopeful that it will be possible to indicate by the middle of April the target date for trialling and then operating the Busway.

"CCC and Nuttall remain resolutely of the view that once completed the busway will provide the high quality, well-used and successful service we always anticipated."

The busway, which is a year overdue, is expected to cost about £160million against a budget of £116.2million.

Last week, Cambridgeshire's Lib Dems described the Guided Bus as a "bad idea from the start".

Video footage of the Cambridgeshire Guided Bus in action has been re-released by the county council to remind passengers that this is what they will get...one day. To watch the video go to www.huntspost24.co.uk and click on the video/audio tag.

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