"Completion of the Promenade project could be threatened by the need for further funding, a Tynwald scrutiny committee has warned.

Changes to the scope and timetable of the Prom scheme were announced last month.

While most of the project will now be completed by the end of March next year, work on a second phase will resume in the winter of 2021-22 focuses on laying the horse tram tracks on Loch Promenade.

The environment and infrastructure policy review committee said it welcomed a commitment from new Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker that the horse tramway will ultimately run the full length of the promenade to the Sea Terminal.

But in its report, laid before this week’s Tynwald sitting, it expressed concern that the Department of Infrastructure doesn’t yet know how much this second phase will cost.

It said: ’We remain concerned that completion of the project could be threatened by the potential need for further capital funding, subject to Treasury and Tynwald approval, and planning approval.’

The committee pointed out that delaying the final works until autumn 2021 will mean it won’t be complete until after the general election and so there needed to be an ’absolute commitment to the necessary capital funding’.

’We expect the department to provide assurances to Tynwald about these aspects as a matter of urgency,’ it added.

The committee invited the DoI to produce a report identifying and earmarking the funds needed to complete the works as it was important the overall costs of the scheme are accountable.

It said it was concerned that significant decisions have been made about the project without an idea of the costs, or input from other ’stakeholders’.

This included the idea outlined by DoI chief executive Nick Black for a green tramway, laid on sleepers rather than in concrete, with plants allowed to grow in the ballast.

Mr Black said in the long term, the new tracks may be used by modern trams as part of a possible light rail system running from Birch Hill to Farmhill.

He told the committee the prom would not be left looking like a construction site at the end of March, with the route of the uncompleted horse tramway planted with meadow grass pending the laying of the track.

But the report said the tram corridor on Loch Promenade should not be ’dressed up and planted for summer 2021’ - rather it should be left ’neat and safe and ready to receive the final track finishings at the very earliest opportunity’.

The £25m prom scheme has been dogged by delays caused by technical problems and then the Covid crisis.

One issue has been cracking in the concrete tram corridor. A consultant’s report blamed the way the cement was laid right up to the rail, although the DoI argued this system was used on other tramways.

The department confirmed that as a result of the reports into the concrete cracking, both the contractor and the rail designer are working to ’amended design and installation methods’.

One of these methods appears to include a gap between the concrete and the track.

In a statement, the DoI said: ’The use of a sealant along the length of the rails has always been part of the design.

’A number of different construction techniques have been trialled to determine the most effective and economic method of installing this sealant.

’The cracking that had appeared in the concrete during the initial installation is being monitored and prior to completion of the project, any residual cracking will be addressed.' "

Isle of Man Newspapers


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