THE estimated cost of building the guided busway has reached about £181million, Cambridgeshire County Council admitted.

But senior councillors are still maintaining that Council Tax payers will not have to stump up a penny more for construction than the maximum expected when the project started five years ago.

Contractor BAM Nuttall’s latest estimate of the cost of building the 25-km two-part guideway has reached £151million, excluding about £30m spent on buying land for the project and CCC’s own costs.

The construction target price – reduced when CCC removed park-and-ride buildings at St Ives and Longstanton and a kiss-and-ride facility at Swavesey from the contract two years ago – is about £86.5m. It puts the project £65m over budget.

The cost overrun, according to the CCC’s interpretation of the contract, is shared between BAM and the council, but CCC says its exposure is limited to £5m. The county council expects to get £45m back from the contractor – other money has been withheld because of late delivery of the busway, which was to have been opened in April 2009.

The latest figures were revealed by County Councillor Roy Pegram, cabinet member for growth, infrastructure and strategic planning, who said: “The current forecast of the actual cost of constructing the scheme from BAM Nuttall is £151m. Non-contractual costs are currently forecast at £29.7m. The addition of these two gives a total of £180.7m.”

But the final figures would inevitably be different, he said.