Just another bridge too far... or is it?
The city council’s portfolio holder for planning Peter Hiller says that the cost of a ‘network’ of bridges to replace Rhubarb Bridge in the city will cost up to £30m... a big sum compared to the ballpark £5m it will cost to install a series of crossings and road improvements when the old bridge is taken down. However it seems Labour chief Ed Murphy puts the replacement bridge figure at closer to £6m. When the PT looked at the cost of some recent, and probably, larger bridge projects , certainly £30m looked a pretty generous budget for bridging a busy road in Peterborough. However, we also have to acknowledge that the public purse is brutally stretched and the cheapest option often looks the best when the local government calculators come out. The new crossing network might be a major project but it is still a backward step from what currently exists. However, our newest tier of local government - the combined Cambridgeshire and Peterborough authority under elected mayor James Palmer, has not ruled out riding to the rescue of Rhubarb Bridge and possibly even a bridge over the Nene at Fletton Quays - the subject of a PT campaign and great public support. That authority has improved housing provision and transport links at the top of its shopping list. Peterborough is - in our view - often short-changed/forgotten when it comes to regional investment. Replacing Rhubarb Bridge might be a bridge to far for the city council’s budget but it would be a significant statement if the combined authority could find the cash to keep pedestrians and cyclists and traffic flowing freely at this hugely busy Peterborough traffic pinchpoint.