The cost of Kingston’s £33m mini-Holland cycling project is skyrocketing, with the first phase now coming in at more than double the original price.
Last week the Portsmouth Road project was approved by councillors with the estimated cost up from £1.4m to £3.26m.
- Yesterday: Thames Water demand almost entire budget for second phase of mini-Holland project on their land
- March: Pressure pays off as Kingston Council unveils drastically revised mini-Holland plans
In what was deemed a victory for cycling campaigners, the council was forced to drastically re-design its first phase plans earlier this year when they were branded unsafe amid complaints the segregation between cyclists and motorists was not enough.
The redesigns, which increased segregation from 20 to 85 per cent, were widely praised and project managers assured the Surrey Comet that the phase would not exceed the budget.
But this week Kingston Council revealed in order to deliver the scheme specified in the bid document, it would cost considerably more.
To accommodate the fully-segregated two-way cycle track, significant structural alterations between Portsmouth Road and Queen’s Promenade would have to be made, the council said.
The western footpath - overlooking the Thames and Seething Wells water works - will also have to be partially removed.
Despite the extra cost, councillor Richard Hudson, lead member for capital, projects and contracts, said the increased segregation was essential.
He said: "We must do whatever we can to protect cyclists and make them feel safer while recognising the need to share space with other road users.
"Painting white lines on tarmac is not enough. It is only by delivering innovative highway schemes that we will make a real difference."
Coun Hudson added: "There were some costs that were unforeseeable.
"Because this is the first phase of a project we worked so hard to secure it’s important that it is as good as it can be.
"We will jig the money around to accommodate the increased costs."
Project managers went back to the drawing board after cyclists, motorists and pedestrians criticised these early plans for Portsmouth Road
Nick Davies, from Kingston Cycling Campaign, said: "Kingston Cycling Campaign are very pleased that councillors have unanimously approved the revised mini-Holland scheme for Portsmouth Road.
"We look forward to working on detailed implementation and on the remainder of Portsmouth Road and the other mini-Holland schemes. We are optimistic that, with goodwill and good sense, a real step change in the cycling facilities in the borough can be delivered to the benefit of all."
Liberal Democrat opposition leader Liz Green said "It is important that because this is the first mini-Holland scheme, it showcases what can be done.
"However we are going to have to keep an eye on that money because it might knock another scheme off the table. No one wants that."