By Matthew Waterhouse - 21st January 2020 6:00am
This is our third Newsletter and in very quick succession to our Christmas update.
Don't forget — for information about all the actions taken, meetings attended and statements made by the Group look on our website
While 2019 turned out to be rather quiet on the A51 front, 2020 has opened with some news already.
Last Friday, at a meeting of the LTB (Local Transport Board), there was a proposal put to the meeting that the relevant bodies present, all provide funding towards the "A51/A500 Corridor Study".
The LTB is a body where Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Warrington Borough and the Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) meet to review transportation infrastructure matters of mutual interest.
The previous Chairman of the LTB resigned last year and, at this meeting, there has been a new permanent Chairman appointed — Graham Bristow.
The LEP proposed that they make a contribution of £26,000 — with equal contributions from Cheshire East (CEC) and Cheshire West (CW&CC) — towards the Study. A decision was made to accept this proposal subject only to a late request from Warrington and a minor re-checking of priorities. This will be concluded on 7th February at the LEP Strategy meeting. But we are very confident that the Study will not be affected as the contribution by 3 parties gives it a big "push".
The Corridor Study will have as its prime objectives to:
Gather robust evidence and make the case for internal and external investment in transport enhancements along the strategic road corridor that crosses both boroughs of CEC and CW&CC
The Study will consider options to tackle capacity constraints and network resilience along the A51 Corridor between the M6 in Crewe and the A55 in Chester. The scheme will also help to address severance amongst communities along the route while unlocking growth along the route. The work will provide an evidence base for future case development.
This project has been recognised as strategically important by both the LTB and the Strategy Committee, and was not funded previously simply because of focus on schemes with elements which could be delivered in the short-term. CEC and CW&CC will each provide match funding to the project.
There is a more detailed breakdown and justification for the Corridor Study in the paper presented to the LTB by the LEP last Friday.So, all this means that the proposal has progressed rather more quickly that was suggested last month.
We understand that it is the LEP's intent to have a brief to put out for tender (for the Study) by April this year. We expect to be involved in defining the brief.
Other A51 news
1. Cheshire East Highways have submitted a planning application for the "dual-ing" of the final stretch of the A500 up to the M6 at Junction 16. Work was scheduled to start in 2020. But the funding from Central Government has been delayed — again. The published "end date" has remained the same but the start date is now dubious due to lack of funds. Let's hope that the new Government is going to honour its commitments to infrastructure improvements in the North. More details are available on the CEC website. This is still the case with the Department for Transport still not deciding how to fund this project.
2. Cheshire West Highways are due to submit a planning application for changes to the roundabout at Tarvin, the traffic lights at Stamford Bridge and at the junction by the Chester Rugby Club. We understand that this work is also due to start in 2020. This is still valid.
3. New! At the LTB, the DfT statement (the usual representative was not present but he sent a statement) revealed that there is a proposal from the Government to upgrade/enhance the A55, as a main artery, in North Wales. This, presumably, is to assist with the effects of Brexit and the increased traffic expected through Holyhead.
4. New! HS2 in Crewe is progressing. Crewe is defined as a "sub-regional hub" meaning that it should be at the centre of an integrated transport infrastructure to include rail, road, bus, etc.