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Cost quadruples on early involvement road job

A ROAD widening job procured under the Early Contractor Involvement scheme has rocketed to four times its original budget.

The Highways Agency job to widen part of the M6 was awarded to Carillion in 2003.

It was originally valued at £46 million and formed part of the Government's Targeted Programme of Improvements in 2002, but last week the off icial go-ahead was given for the scheme with a new cost of £175 million.

One contractor said it highlighted how the Highways Agency was unable to set realistic budgets. He said: 'Even with inflation and allowances for changes to the design and route this is a huge increase.' The Agency project manager for the scheme, Ziad El Balbsi, said: 'It is always hard trying to estimate the costs of a scheme that is not fully developed, but we are still in negotiations with Carillion to agree a second target cost, and I know this will be substantially lower. The risk assessments for the project were originally set too high.' A Carillion spokeswoman said: 'The whole point of ECI is to work up plans with the client, so the value is something we have worked out with them according to different issues.'