The final cost for Aberdeen’s Third Don Crossing was £4 million over budget, the Evening Express can reveal today.
A new report has put the overspend on the project up by £1m from previous estimates. It highlighted the crossing opened in June 2016 “some seven months behind schedule and at an additional cost of £4m over the estimated cost at the outset”.
In a report to be heard by the city council’s audit, risk and scrutiny committee on Tuesday, councillors will also hear the lessons the local authority has learned from its construction.
The £22.3m bridge now links Tillydrone and Bridge of Don and is now used by around 10,000 vehicles daily.
External auditors have now advised that a review should be made by the city council in relation to the increase in costs and delays associated with the Third Don. The audit stated a variety of issues are likely to have contributed to the delays including the relationships the council had with companies associated with the creation of the bridge.
Several problems arose during the construction of the bridge such as unexpected utilities running under the site and a design issue with bearings.
The report said the council had made improvements in several areas since the project but said had “more robust processes” been in place at the time “a number of issues that have given rise to the delays and overrun of costs could have been avoided”.
The report also said there was a danger companies bidding for the work had been given such a short timeframe to do so that they were “not able to fully assess the contract risks or to work with their supply chains to develop alternative approaches or innovative solutions for the council to consider”.
According to the report, the council only considered price when considering four tenders for the work.
Independent consultant Dorothy Cowie said that was “surprising”.
She said this provided less opportunity “to investigate any specific issues or concerns about quality, project management, resources, sustainability”.
“It is difficult to see how these important quality and ‘total cost of ownership’ aspects could be taken fully into account in the evaluation,” she said.
Ms Cowie added: “It was reported that uncharted utilities were a problem which caused both delays and additional costs. Those involved from the council at times found it difficult to manage these relationships, had to cope with changes of scope on several occasions and struggled to get the utility companies to respond in a timely manner.
“Given this and the frequent interaction that the council has with the utility companies it may be worth considering how these relationships can be improved by, for example, introducing a more frequent interaction at a senior level across the organisations involved.”
She also suggested the situation regarding a design problem could have been handled differently with the contractor.
The report did state, however, that many “building blocks have already been established or are actively being rolled out across the organisation” to avoid repeats of these problems in future.