£93m boost for three major road upgrades

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2-min read

Upgrading a major road plagued by landslips is one of three projects to benefit from £93 million of Government funding, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

Some £56 million will support a plan to diverting the A59 away from an unstable section at Kex Gill near Skipton, North Yorkshire.

This will ensure more reliable journeys for thousands of people every day, the Department for Transport said.

The road has been closed multiple times in recent years, including for two months in 2016 when substantial cracks were discovered.

Each incident causes long delays for drivers and results in surrounding towns and villages being clogged up as vehicles embark on a six-mile diversion.

But the RSPB warned that the upgrade could lead to some of the UK’s most threatened birds, such as curlew, golden plover and lapwing, being disturbed and displaced.

The wildlife charity said it is calling for designs to be amended to provide “much stronger protection for nature”.

A lapwing (Dougie Holden/National Trust/PA)
A lapwing (Dougie Holden/National Trust/PA)

Some £24 million will go towards improving one of the most heavily congested junctions in the West Midlands.

Birchley Island, at the intersection of the M5, A4123 and A4034 in Oldbury, will have its existing carriageway widened, and additional lanes added, to smooth connections between local roads and the motorway.

The Redbridge Causeway bridges linking Southampton and Totton will be given a £13 million boost after a report found it was in “poor condition” and in need of vital repairs.

Around 60,000 vehicles a day use the crossing over the River Test.

The total cost of the three schemes is expected to reach £107 million, with local councils making up the shortfall, pending legal processes.

Mr Shapps said: “I am delighted to announce this significant funding package which will ensure millions of people can continue to travel easily and safely.

“It’s further proof of this Government delivering on its promise to level up the country, putting transport at the heart of our efforts to build back better from Covid-19.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay commented: “Upgrading the country’s roads doesn’t just help drivers.

“It’ll mean more jobs, safer journeys and more reliable access to things like education and work.

“This Government is pressing ahead with our commitment to level up the country – even through this pandemic – ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity to get on in life regardless of where they live.”

But Tom Fyans, campaigns and policy director at countryside charity CPRE, claimed the projects “contradict the Government’s vision for a future in which we decarbonise the transport sector by using our cars less”.

He added: “Using this money to invest in reliable bus services for our towns and villages would give a far bigger boost to the economy than pouring yet more expensive and unnecessary tarmac across the country.”