A six-week public consultation which could pave the way for a long-awaited project to relieve congestion around Whitehaven in Cumbria was unveiled by Highways England on Friday (2 November).
Over the years various ideas have been suggested to tackle congestion through the town but now Highways England – which operates the A595 through Whitehaven – is looking to develop proposals which could see work begin by 2025.
Highways England has been asked to develop the proposals after Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling promised to consult local people over the issue last year. The public consultation – announced on Friday at a briefing for councillors, MPs and other key partners – will run from Wednesday (7 November) to Wednesday 19 December. It includes 3 public meetings.
Announcing the consultation on Friday Mr 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.”
Highways England planning manager Emily Waterfall, said: “There’s been talk of a Whitehaven relief road for years and the Government has now asked us to come up with some ideas to improve the A595 which is part of the strategic road network we operate between Cockermouth and Calder Bridge.
“We’re keeping an open mind on solutions for the route and want local people, commuters and businesses to come and talk to us. We want to hear about their issues and concerns as well as ideas for improving the reliability of journeys around Whitehaven.
“For us this is ultimately about developing workable options for a new road or other improvements which can deliver more reliable journeys for residents, commuters and business and help to support the economy of West Cumbria – providing the infrastructure to support current, planned and potential investment in the area for jobs and housing.”
Highways England has identified several possible solutions to congestion issues. The consultation is designed to generate views on those as well as people’s local knowledge, concerns and ideas for improvements.
Highways England is asking the public if they agree with the problems identified, what locations they feel are priority for improvement, what benefits are most important to them, and if they agree with the high level proposed solutions identified which include improving the existing road, constructing a bypass and improving the A595 between major employment sites at Westlakes Science Park and Sellafield.
All this information will help ensure that the correct proposals are taken forward. People are also being asked to provide their local knowledge of the area to feed into development of the design.
Highways England is stressing the consultation is only the start of a process which will require rigorous assessment and approval at every stage.
The details of the 3 consultation meetings are as follows:
- Saturday 17 November (10am to 4pm) and at the Beacon Museum, The Beacon Portal, West Strand, Whitehaven, CA28 7LY
- Wednesday 28 November (2pm to 7pm) also at the Beacon Museum
- Thursday 29 November (10am to 2pm) Ingwell Hall (Gunson Room), Ingwell Drive, Westlakes Science and Technology Park, Moor Row, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA24 3JZ
A brochure with a questionnaire has been produced to support the consultation. Anyone wishing to get involved can attend one of the public meetings or visit the dedicated project page at www.highwaysengland.co.uk/A595whitehaven. Information is also available from Highways England’s customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.