§ 56. Sir B. Craddock
asked the Minister of Transport if he is now in a position to state when work on the Lancashire section of the Birmingham-Preston motorway will be started.
§ Mr. Marples
I expected that work would begin this summer and regret that there will now be some delay. The 41W Lancashire County Council, as my Agent Authority, invited tenders for two contracts for the 26 miles between Preston and Warrington. Three firms submitted tenders for both contracts and a fourth firm for one contract only.
The average cost per mile in the lowest tenders proved very much higher than for sections of motorway elsewhere. The Lancashire County Council is of the opinion that this may be mainly due to poor soil conditions, to the presence of mine workings (both of which would necessitate heavier excavation than usual and the import of large amounts of fill) and to the cost of drainage in an area which is largely built up.
The additional cost would, however, be so substantial that I have asked for a review of the particulars of the contract documents which were issued to tenderers in order to see whether savings could be made without departing from the basic specification. The review will be carried out, as a matter of urgency, by officers of my Department, the Road Research Laboratory and the County Council. I hope that, following this review, I shall be able to authorise the Lancashire County Council to invite fresh tenders for the motorway later in the year.