Most expensive option is chosen for the much-anticipated King’ Dyke crossing

Kings Dyke crossing.

Kings Dyke crossing. - Credit: Archant

Councillors have approved the most expensive scheme for a bridge at Whittlesey’s notorious bottleneck King’s Dyke railway crossing which will have a “major impact” on a local equestrian centre.

Location three, which includes two roundabouts and is set to cost £16.9m which is more than £3m over the budgeted figure, was approved at yesterday’s Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee.

A council spokesman said they would now be preparing to submit a planning application later this summer. The council will also ask Network Rail for a contribution towards the additional cost from its Level Crossing Closure Programme.

Most of the previous estimated cost of £13.5m has been secured from external sources with the county council contributing £2m, however if no extra funding can be found then the council’s contribution will rise to £5.4m.

Location three received support from 58 per cent of people who responded during the consultation process, which offered three different routes for a bridge/bypass over the crossing, which causes major traffic congestion. It was also the subject of a 40 signature petition in favour.

A report to yesterday’s meeting said it was unsurprising that location one, which would cause the most inconvenience during construction was the least favoured, but added: “The extent of the favour for location three is mildly surprising given the tendency within other transport consultation for people to favour minimal change. Location three includes two roundabouts at either end is a longer route and would require lighting,”

Location three will need the council to acquire the most land and will also effect a livery stables and equestrian centre, severing the main stables from the paddocks and gallops.

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The report stated: “Whilst it is considered practical to provide an equine underpass to retain a connection between the two parts of the site, the impact on business, following mitigation, is still considered to be major.”

It is hoped the land can be bought by negotiation, but a Compulsory Purchase Order and a Side Roads Order are proposed to ensure the necessary land and powers are available to deliver the scheme. Yesterday’s meeting also approved in principle the acquisition of the land.

The report added the main recurring message from the consultation was of the urgent need for a replacement to the level crossing with many replies urging the council to “hurry up” and/or “get on and do it”.

It is anticipated construction will start in spring 2016 as long as there is not a Public Inquiry.