Major investment to make better journeys in Cumbria and consultation regarding congestion and safety on the A595 link near Whitehaven launched
Cumbria’s crucial road links are set to benefit from major investment, delivering safer, faster, and more reliable journeys, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will announce on a visit to Whitehaven today (2 November 2018).
The Transport Secretary visits as Highways England launches a public consultation into the expansion of the A595 around Whitehaven, with construction set to begin in the 2020s.
Focused on upgrading a pinch-point which causes traffic between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness, the consultation will look at ways of cutting congestion, improving safety and reducing rat-running on other local roads.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Investing in Cumbria’s vital transport routes cuts congestion, ensures drivers enjoy faster, safer journeys, and increases the freight capacity needed to drive forward jobs and economic growth.
“This shows our cast-iron commitment to Cumbria, as we deliver the investment needed to provide businesses and commuters with more reliable and resilient journeys.”
The Secretary of State also confirmed ongoing discussions with local partners on proposals to progress development of a major programme of upgrades on the Cumbrian Coast rail line to support expected major investments in West Cumbria and the creation of new jobs.
Cllr Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “Cumbria County Council has worked hard to lobby Government over a number of years to raise awareness of the various challenges facing Cumbria’s roads.
“We welcome today’s announcement and the Department for Transport’s commitment to investing in Cumbria’s transport network. The A595 is a vital artery connecting communities and the proposed investment would be key to achieving improved road safety, enhanced connectivity and stimulate economic growth. I look forward to the outcome of the consultation and encourage local people to respond.
“I am also very pleased that the Secretary of State is continuing his dialogue about the critical need to upgrade the Cumbrian Coast Line. The upgrade of this line is really important for our communities and businesses and the long term prosperity of Cumbria and I hope a positive decision will be reached.”
Commenting on the announcement, Cumbria LEP Board Member Jim Jackson said: “This is an important road improvement in its own terms, and secondly it is another key step towards creating a coherent transport network for Cumbria as a whole, which is what the county requires.
“It is great news to see further progress on the Transport Infrastructure plans which the LEP and Cumbria County Council have developed and championed together with partners.
“The Government has also acknowledged the importance of the Cumbria Coastal Rail development plans and that is also a positive that the project is clearly on its radar.”
The public consultation on the A595 announced today will run from Wednesday 7 November to Wednesday 19 December and will include three public meetings. The Secretary of State also recently announced proposals which could reduce congestion on the A595 at Grizebeck, between Calder Bridge and Barrow.
Cumbria LEP submitted an early stage business case to the Department for Transport in July for Government funding to support the next stage of work on improvements to the Cumbrian Coast rail line. This is under consideration.
In line with the new ‘pipeline’ approach to rail enhancements published in March this year the proposed work would cover the ‘develop’ stage of the pipeline, leading to a subsequent decision on whether to provide funding for further stages.
Cumbria County Council’s Conservative group leader, Cllr James Airey, has secured an important commitment from the Secretary of State for Transport on improvements to the A590 at a meeting in south Cumbria today (2 November).
During their meeting, James Airey made the case to Chris Grayling for a thriving A590 economic corridor that supports existing businesses, and attracts more, by ironing out traffic bottlenecks. In response, Mr Grayling gave an assurance that an economic case for changes to the A590 would play an important role when applications for future road improvement schemes are considered.
Councillor James Airey said: “I was delighted to receive an assurance that the economic case for improvements to the A590 will be an important component when assessing future funding bids.
“Creating an A590 economic corridor would support existing businesses and help attract new ones. Resolving traffic bottlenecks and creating more start-up units along the A590 would help bring more jobs and prosperity to our area.
“Following a meeting I held with the Transport Secretary last year, the Highways Agency has already begun to work with local councillors to draw-up plans for improvements on the A590 between Brettargh Holt and Meathop.
“Taking this further in the form of an A590 economic corridor would see improvements being made to tackle pinch-points along the entire length of the road.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “James is passionate about South Lakeland and the vital role transport has to play in helping to unlock the jobs of the future.
“We are spending record amounts on our road network and my visit to Cumbria today follows the announcement I made last month of upgrade work to the infamous farmyard bottleneck on the A595 at Grizebeck.
“The case for improvements to the A590 to help spur jobs and investment was extremely well-made by James and the economic case for further investment will be properly considered when applications for future road improvement schemes are reviewed.”