The A51 is a strategic road from the M6 to the A55 to North Wales and the ferry ports for Ireland, Chester, Wirral and Liverpool. We should consider the total link between the M6, at Junction 16, and the A55 at Chester. The A55, with other dual carriageway roads and Motorways, forms a link from Manchester to Holyhead.
The A500 forms a (currently) limited dual carriageway link from the M6 to Nantwich. The sole single carriageway section – the Barthomley link is already proposed for dual-ling by the Highways Agency.
In the mid 1990s (nearly 20 years ago) the local residents joined with other concerned members of the public living alongside and/or close to the A51, and formed CABAC (the Calveley and Alpraham Bypass Action Committee), as a pressure group. This group was supported by the then Parish Councils of Calveley, Alpraham, and Tiverton – located east of Tarporley – and Dutton and Clotton – located west of Tarporley. We were also loosely joined with Littleton who were trying to alleviate the congestion they already suffered. At the time, Calveley and Alpraham was the first section of speed restricted road from the outskirts of Dover on the way to Dublin!!!
This committee was pretty successful and with the support of our local MP, Gwyneth Dunwoody, managed to gain the inclusion of a bypass in the roads white paper published that year. The Highways Agency recognised, 20 years ago, that a bypass was needed. And that was when the traffic was 25% less than the present day.
However, at a later date in a cost cutting exercise, the provision was removed – overnight!
A report published in 2009 highlighted many concerns and issues associated with the A51 at various points along its length through the two new Council areas. The particular problems of the A51, in all areas, include the high (and growing) HGV use, the high number of collisions (particularly those involving HGVs which is above national averages) and their severity, the collision clustering and the close proximity of housing to the A51 particularly in the villages of Calveley and Alpraham. The lack of overtaking opportunities and the length of the single carriageway road does lead to significant frustration in drivers.
This report appears to have been conveniently forgotten and side lined by the present councils.
Many, many people use this road to get from the M6 to Chester, North Wales, the Wirral and Liverpool. In fact, no matter how good the M6 signing is, in this day of modern technology it is satellite navigation systems that rule where and how both cars and trucks go and the roads they use.
The road was de-trunked by the Highways Agency in 2001, immediately after some rather poor quality repairs, and there has been little or no incentive and almost no money to do anything about improving, developing or controlling, it since then. The A51 remains a very busy route and is often used in preference to the M56 by both private vehicles and HGVs. This is because it is a reliable, consistent and has much shorter journey times than the M56. And it is a regular "rat-run" for when the M6 has problems. Everybody knows that the M6 is frequently slowed or halted between J13 and J21 again both north and south.
The A51 has, over the last 20+ years gone from 8,000 (1990 figures from the Highways Agency to CABAC at its formation) vehicles per day to over 14,000 (data from the DFT). At the time of the discussions between CABAC and the HA, it was said that the road would be considered "saturated" at 10,000 vehicles per day. And the HA considered it essential that some section of dual carriageway should be included in the by-pass as it would act as "frustration relief" between the M6 and the A55.
In fact it has got so bad for congestion that it now gets mentioned on national and local TV as a busy route into Chester.
The best method of developing the corridor from the M6 to Chester and North Wales, while also protecting the south Cheshire environment, is to pursue a new bypass proposal.
There several ways in which this idea could be funded.
1. Clearly central government and highways agency involvement. It seems to many that the decision to "de-trunk" was very marginal in that the route really was, is and will continue to be, a major trunk road. The Highways Agency still are responsible for the A 500 bit of this link from J16 of the M6 to the end of the dual carriageway at Nantwich. There is only a 20 mile gap!!
2. Mitigation of the many developments along or close to the A51 could be pooled into a pot for this total exercise
3. Include some of the HS2 development funding as a regional improvement
4. Bite the bullet "Just do it" – perhaps as a toll road?!!!
This road would have many benefits including:
1. Improved direct access to North Wales
2. Greater and improved links to HS2 in Crewe
3. Better quality of sustainable living for those in the immediate vicinity of the current A51
There is to be a meeting in Tarvin Community Centre on the evening of 22nd April to discuss the options open to the affected Parish Councils. Members of Tarvin Parish Council will be attending and we will report back on the way forwards
(Ed. This article was taken from the excellent briefing note prepared by
Matthew Waterhouse the Chair of Calveley Parish Council
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