Belfast Telegraph

£3m Strabane bridge plan shelved as tenders are too high

By Donna Deeney

Plans to build a new £3m footbridge in Strabane have been shelved because the council could not find a contractor in time.

Cycle charity Sustrans has withdrawn £650,000 it set aside for the bridge, which was to have spanned more than 70m across the River Mourne.

The delay in getting the project off the ground came about because Strabane District Council did not receive a contractor's tender that could bring the bridge in under the £3m budget.

Sustrans' funding was agreed on condition that the bridge would be built by March 2013 — but once it became evident that this was not possible the charity withdrew its contribution.

Nick Cook, Sustrans manager of Northern Ireland Cycle Network, said the charity had no choice but to withdraw.

“We saw this as a really worthwhile project — we still do — and had allocated £600,000 for the bridge itself, with an additional £50,000 to be spent upgrading paths leading to the bridge,” he said. “But unfortunately, because the money came through the Big Lottery, it had to be used by March 2013, but as the tender to build the bridge has yet to be awarded we had no choice but to withdraw the money.

“We have been in contact with Strabane District Council to discuss possible alternative projects that will be available within the timeframe.”

The remainder of the money for the bridge, £2.2m, had been agreed by the Department for Regional Development, and it is thought this money is still available.

However, the two tenders to build the bridge received by the council were in the region of £4.5m.

Interim chief executive for Strabane District Council Daniel Mc Sorley blamed a volatile steel market for the costs.

“It just wasn't possible to award the project,” he said.

“The difficulty was the tenderer came in well above the estimate, but we are now at the stage of re-examining how we can move the project forward.”

”The steel market was very volatile and there was no the cost certainly you would like to have and there was also additional costs incurred to move a water main.

“In the review of the project that we are now undertaking, we are looking at saving £250,000 in relation to that cost so hopefully we will develop the project that will come back under budget again.

“It is disappointing that we were not able to deliver the project within the time frame set by Sustrans but we just have to accept that.

“I am not able to give a deadline as to when the project will be delivered.

“Realistically we are looking at an appraisal of the design at this point but I would like to think that within the next couple of month we will make a clearer announcement in relation to the plan for taking this project forward.”quotes

“It is disappointing that we were not able to deliver the project within the time frame set by Sustrans but we just have to accept that.

“I am not able to give a deadline as to when the project will be delivered.”

Strabane Council interim chief executive Daniel McSorley

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