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Airport link road costs spiral again

COST increases on a route in the north-west dubbed the 'road to nowhere' came under fire last week after another huge price rise was unveiled.

The £550 million A555 road, linking Manchester airport with the A6, was first outlined in 1998 at a cost of £300 million and has been on hold since.

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Manchester City Council and Cheshire County Council have been working on the project for the past five years, causing planning and design costs to rise significantly.

In a debate in the House of Commons last week, Cheadle MP Mark Hunter said: 'It is somewhat frustrating for those who have long campaigned for the relief road to be completed to hear the Government talking about cost escalation, especially given that the delay caused by successive governments has led to much of the increase in costs over that period.

'I simply do not believe any other transport project has jumped through as many governmental hoops.'

Transport minister Gillian Merron said the increase in price was due to 'rising construction costs and inflation'.

A spokesman for Mr Hunter said the scheme was now looking at PFI funding.

Jim Turner, economist at the Civil Engineering Contractors, said: 'More and more schemes will have to go down this PFI route because the funding is just not there. CECA has been expecting a decision on some of these regional schemes but, the longer they postpone it, the more expensive the scheme will be.'

After a year of hold-ups, another road scheme in the north, the East Leeds Link Road, has finally started to progress.

Prequalification documents surfaced for the scheme, part of an £85 million upgrade to the inner ring road, in July 2004.

One council source said: 'We received approval back in April and have since been confirmed funding details and compulsory purchase orders.'