More than £2.6m of public money has so far been spent on Chichester’s A27 improvement scheme without ground being broken.
Since resurrecting the project in 2013, Highways England has spent £2,633,205, the Observer can reveal.
And grave fears that the project is being downgraded appear to be founded, with the Highways CEO stating just £100m could now be spent on upgrading the roundabouts.
The £2.6m spend has been slammed as a ‘scandal’ by campaigners, who ask ‘what do we have to show for it?’
During the 2013/14 financial year, £141,690 was spent on evaluating previous regional studies, the appraisal of air quality status, and review of watercourses and ecology, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
From 2014/15, £1,056,635 was spent on an economic assessment report, an appraisal summary table, initial surveys, and an operation concept.
£1,317,842 was spent in 2015/16 on traffic modelling, economic assessments, options assessments, 3D model development and stakeholder engagements.
So far this financial year to April 16, £117,038 has gone on traffic modelling, noise assessments, production of public consultation materials, and the reparation for Water Framework Directive and flood risk appraisal.
While Chichester Deserves Better (CDB) welcomed the project taking place, Ben Kirk said: “It is a scandal...that more than £2.6m of public money has been spent in the last three years, just getting to this point. What do we have to show for it?
“We would be interested to know how much of this was wasted on the discounted options, such as the northern bypass, that Highways England knew were not viable many months ago.”
And in correspondence leaked to the Observer between Highways CEO Jim O’Sullivan and John O’Brien, cabinet member for highways at WSCC, Mr O’Sullivan states that the Chichester scheme’s cost is ‘within the range £100m- £250m’ and ‘will cost towards the lower end’.
Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie has joined CDB and the Observer in raising fears that the project has been scaled back. Mr Tyrie said the budget was ‘significantly lower’ than those given to key stakeholders, and warned that Chichester may only get ‘hamburger junctions’
Highways said it was ‘committed’ to upgrades, and expected to ‘deliver £2.50 worth of economic benefits for every £1 invested’.
“The money spent on this scheme so far is comparable with other major projects and has been done to ensure we develop the right option for the area. “We will be carrying out a full consultation in the summer,” a spokesman said.
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