AN EXTRA £1m is expected to be signed off this week to allow the long-awaited completion of the town centre’s new landmark bridge.
Without the sum being approved the project ‘could not proceed as planned’, according to the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA).
A report - which will be discussed by county bosses at a meeting in Sheffield on Tuesday - said it will be the fourth lump sum to be awarded to the scheme by the SYMCA following previous grants of £2m, £2.8m and £3.1m.
Network Rail provided £2m and the remaining amount was footed by Barnsley Council for the 61-metre-long structure, which opened to the public before Christmas but required finishing touches to be carried out.
A key reason for more cash being required was the original contractor, NMCN, falling into administration which resulted in delays due to finding a new company to take over, the report said.
Keltbray stepped in and changes were then made to the bridge’s specification including drainage, hard and soft landscaping finishes and pedestrian incursion measures.
Extra bills relating to the temporary bridge and football traffic management were also accrued.
The SYMCA report said: “Due to extensive delays caused by the main contractor going into administration and the diversion of uncharted gas mains, the scheme encountered increased costs and additional works.
“As the construction of the Barnsley town centre pedestrian bridge and associated public realm improvements nears completion, the project has experienced a number of changes to the specification and construction detail.
“These variances have become apparent and additional funding of £1m was sought to facilitate the scheme’s completion.
“Without additional resources the project could not proceed as planned.
“This report proposes that £1m be allocated from recycled ‘local growth funding’ for Barnsley-based activity.
“Additional funding at this level does not materially affect the benefit-to-cost ratio, with the scheme continuing to represent value for money.”
The construction of the bridge is projected to cost less than £8m but associated costs - including professional fees and legal costs, design work, landscaping, charges from Network Rail for access over their line, and unexpected gas diversion work - will take the total bridge-related costs to £11.2m.
A further £1.8m has been invested as part of the wider project in other improvements around the bridge, including new paving and public realm works, improved street lighting, highway works, as well as a sewer diversion which was required in order to complete the Cineworld building.
Coun Robin Franklin, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “The stunning new Market Gate Bridge is now open to pedestrians and will soon be fully complete, including the opening of the lifts and a variety of other paving and cosmetic finishing works.
“This has been a complex project and a number of challenges arose during the construction period.
“The project has also included a range of highway and public realm improvement works which are complementary to the construction of the bridge.
“We are now seeking approval to allocate an additional £1m of funds already committed to Barnsley by the SYMCA to be used on this project, which will reduce the impact on the council’s own capital budget.
“We’re grateful to SYMCA who have funded the majority of the cost of this bridge and the wider improvements around it.”
The former Jumble Lane level crossing was closed as part of Network Rail’s programme to reduce risks at level crossings.
It was ranked as the 27th most dangerous crossing out of more than 2,300 assessed by Network Rail at the time, predominantly due to red light-running motorists and pedestrians jumping over the barriers.
“We identified a preferred contractor after a lengthy tender process,” a council statement added.
“After months of hard work, a position was agreed in July 2021 which protected the council and allowed work to begin.
“This was finally signed by the contractor on September 30, 2021, but the firm fell into administration just four days later.
“It then took several months to novate the contract to an alternative contractor in Keltbray.
“Construction off-site began in February 2022 and on-site work began in July 2022.
“There are some cosmetic works still to complete.
“In addition, the lifts will be unavailable when the bridge first opens but are anticipated to open in the new year.
“This phased opening allows us to get the bridge in use as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the remaining works to be completed.”