The struggling Bishopbriggs Relief Road project has been hit with new delays that will push back the opening date into early 2018.
That was the bleak news handed to council chiefs in the latest meeting with Network Rail, which cited a need to relocate utility cables and “ongoing wider works” for the latest snag.
The news has been greeted with fury by Liberal Democrat councillor Gary Pews, who is demanding better communication with residents and “an end to false promises of opening dates which are continually put back”.
He says it’s been confirmed to him that the latest hitch means the scheme will inevitably be over-budget, and says there’s “no way” residents should be expected to foot the bill.
Bishopbriggs Relief Road Phase 4 involves the creation of a new road between the end of Phase 3, at Wester Cleddens Roundabout, and a new roundabout near the Aviva offices on Westerhill Road, as well as a new bridge over the Edinburgh-Glasgow railway line and a new access road for Cadder Yard.
Throughout the project council officers have held regular meetings with Network Rail, and legal agreements are in place.
But the venture has been saddled with additional unforeseen work, following the discovery of trackside utilities that could only be relocated by Network Rail.
Although that has been rectified, further work - including electrification of the railway line – has spelled further delays.
East Dunbartonshire corporate assets convener Councillor Jim Gibbons said the council was “disappointed” by the latest problem.
But he added: “It is, however, essential to ensure that the relief road and the EGIP are delivered safely and that any issues which come to light, such as the need for utility relocation, are dealt with as they arise.”
He said council officers reckon the installation of the new bridge over the new railway line mean the road is planned set to open in February 2018.
Councillor Gibbons has also asked for a full report on the project to be brought to the appropriate council committee as soon as possible.
However Councillor Pews says the latest problems confirm his worst fears.
He said: “The news will be met with dismay and anger by local residents, who are sick and tired of the congestion the closure is causing in other roads throughout Bishopbriggs.”
He is calling on Network Rail to be more responsive than they appear to him to have been up to now, and to “stop holding the project up any further”.
He added: “If the main delay is being caused by a lack of urgency and co-operation from Network Rail, as I suspect is the case, it’s time they realised the frustration this is causing in the local area, and I will be writing to their senior management to point that out.’’
“I have also had confirmation that this delay will inevitably lead to an overspend on the budget for the road. “There’s no way the council taxpayers should bear the burden of that if the main fault for the delay lies outwith the council.”