Driving To Deliver Your Business

Improvements to notorious commuter road and an eastern bypass for Bath move step closer

Improvements to a notorious commuter road and an eastern bypass for Bath both moved a step closer. Funding for feasibility studies into the long-discussed A36/A46 link road plan and improvements to the junction of Freezinghill Lane and the A420[1] was approved on Monday. The studies are part of a ?6.5million package given the go ahead by the West of England Combined Authority which it hopes will kick-start a series of major schemes aimed at getting the region moving, and securing more homes and jobs.

The decision to invest in a series of business cases and feasibility studies to look at schemes in more detail was made at a Combined Authority meeting at Bath’s Guildhall.

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Bath’s Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse has said the A36/A46 link road “is not the solution” and has called for a Bath traffic census to take place.

Wera Hobhouse pictured on election night 2017

The authority committee is chaired by the Conservative regional mayor, Tim Bowles, and is made up of the leaders and mayor from the three authorities in the region – B&NES Council’s leader Tim Warren (Conservative), Bristol mayor Marvin Rees (Labour) and South Gloucestershire Council leader, Matthew Riddle (Conservative). Mr Bowles, said: “This funding will allow us to look in more detail at some really ambitious schemes that could make a big difference to residents and businesses across our region. “This includes improving transport routes – rail, public transport, road, walking and cycling – and investing in infrastructure to support building new homes.

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“I have now asked our constituent councils to develop robust business cases and feasibility studies to look at the schemes in more detail.

These will then come back to a future meeting of the Combined Authority for further discussion.” A link road to the east of Bath has been a long-standing ambition of the local authority and was backed by Bath’s former MP Ben Howlett.

Former Bath MP Ben Howlett believes the proposed link road will help reduce congestionFormer Bath MP Ben Howlett believes the proposed link road will help reduce congestion

However, Mrs Hobhouse said: “I agree with the other council areas around Bath that a meaningful north/south link needs to be explored, but the A46/A36 link is not the solution. “Local objection to this plan is substantial and the A36[2] further south is already an unstable road that needs constant repairs due to subsidence.

Increased traffic, which would result from a link road, would exacerbate the problem and burden the local villages. “Transporting our problems to just outside Bath is not a fair proposal. We need a proper study of HGV movements in and out of Bath.

Improving the A350 is a more realistic option and I would rather see a feasibility into that option.”

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“A feasibility study into the A36/A46 link is not necessarily something I support, as it might create a fait accompli and could suggest that there is consensus around wanting to go ahead with the 46/A36 link, which there clearly isn’t. “I have not seen any details of what the feasibility study is trying to find out, but clearly it must include a Bath traffic census. That is what I have been calling for.

“We need to accurately know what proportion of traffic might be removed by any link road, because at the moment we are just guessing and hoping.

“And spending millions on a hope is not the best use of taxpayers money, nor is it a good enough reason to destroy such a large chunk of our natural environment.

“What is important is that WECA now consults on the Terms of Reference so that the feasibility consultees are asked the right questions, and that this whole study is based on accurate and up to date traffic census data.”

References

  1. ^ junction of Freezinghill Lane and the A420 (www.bathchronicle.co.uk)
  2. ^ A36 (www.bathchronicle.co.uk)



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