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A4440 Southern Link Road suffers "horrendous" congestion, admits council
CONGESTION on Worcester’s notorious Southern Link Road was lambasted as “horrendous” and “miserable” by politicians today - who backed a breakthrough £38m revamp.
Plans for the biggest roads investment in Worcestershire for years were endorsed by the Conservative leadership this afternoon, which is set to see the A4440 route part-dualled by 2018.
It came as councillors admitted the hold-ups are “giving over 30,000 people a day a miserable experience”, holding back south Worcestershire’s economy and increasing pollution.
During a passionate debate, cabinet members also said people in Malvern are becoming increasingly frustrated by using it for simple trips to Worcestershire Royal Hospital or onto the M5.
The county council also revealed the average number of cars using the road has now hit 31,500 per day, meaning drivers go at 12mph during peak periods despite it having a 60mph limit.
They backed a 12-week consultation before starting work on the first portion of the project, which will see the Ketch island double in size by March 2015.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: “The Southern Link Road is one of the most important roads in Worcestershire, not just to Worcester itself but the county.
“We’ve seen the growth of car-born traffic and the impact variable journey times down there has had - this is one of those routes if people can avoid, they do avoid.
“For a 60 miles-per-hour limit those kind of speeds are very slow. What we’re doing today is giving the green light to tackle this congestion.”
Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and congestion, said: “When you look at the figures, over 30,000 cars using this route daily, it’s horrendous.
“Anyone who travels that journey daily will know what it’s like.”
They also said householders in areas like Malvern are finding themselves increasingly exasperated.
Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for localism and communities, said: “When I was elected as a candidate for Malvern Chase the very first group of residents I met said their biggest concern was transport, and having to use this road to get to the hospital or motorway.”
From March next year a new slip-road will be created for drivers who reach the Ketch island from Bath Road and turn left, as well as a much larger roundabout being created.
After that designs will be created for the rest of the project, dualling Norton roundabout to Whittington island, starting in the spring of 2016.
A remaining section of carriageway between the Norton and Ketch islands will then be dualled too, finishing by early 2018.
Of the total estimated £38m cost, the council is working on significant private sector funding to ease the burden on taxpayers.
That includes a contribution from Welbeck Land, developers which have submitted a planning application for a 2,200 home super village off Crookbarrow Way, St Peter’s.
As your Worcester News revealed last Saturday, Carrington Bridge will not be dualled as part of the project but the council hopes to work on that after 2018.
The council says road speeds will double even without Carrington Bridge being touched.
During the debate Councillor Marc Bayliss, who represents St Peter’s on the county council turned up to say he was very concerned about the Ketch island slip road bringing traffic a few feet from homes in Begonia Close.
He said officers had rejected pleas from him, and other politicians, for details on what other options have been discounted before coming to a conclusion on cutting through a green bank to create the slip-road.
Coun Geraghty said he would “not want to mislead people” that during the consultation anything would change on that, adding there are constraints on the site, such as an electricity pylon.
As your Worcester News revealed today, the council is considering mitigation measures like a raised earth bund and acoustic fence instead.
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