I joined MPs from Kent and East Sussex this week in a
meeting with Transport Minister Tom Harris.
We were raising our concerns over the rising cost of the vital
improvement works to the A21.
The dualling of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury has been
repeatedly delayed over the past 20 years.
The Highways Agency are now saying the cost of the scheme has
spiralled from £64million to £112million leaving open the very real
possibility of the improvements being delayed beyond the promised
2010/2011 start date.
It is incomprehensible that the cost could have risen so
steeply. Our analysis shows that the scheme should cost between
£70m and £80m.
The Nicholls report commissioned by the Department for Transport
recommends that these estimates should be challenged. I sincerely
hope they are.
Further delays are completely unacceptable. This stretch of the
A21 is completely inadequate for the 46,500 vehicles a day that use
And with the new hospital at Pembury under construction, and the
decision to move hospital services from Maidstone to Pembury, there
is even more urgency placed on these works.
The minister listened to our concerns and reassured us that
these improvements remain a priority. Whether there is enough money
in the pot to pay for them is another matter.
He has promised to investigate the costs and its