Plea for rethink on Shrewsbury relief road in wake of Covid-19 crisis
Pleas have been made for the brakes to be put on the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road in light of a likely reduction in commuting in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
Shropshire Council has been urged not to press ahead with the project, for which a planning application was expected to be submitted in May, until future levels of vehicle movement can be established.
Councillor David Vasmer, who represents the Underdale ward in Shrewsbury, put the appeal to members of the authority’s cabinet at a meeting on Monday – but was told the road would not be re-thought unless government guidelines required it.
Councillor Vasmer said suggestions that the council could sell off Shirehall and move towards more home and remote working would reduce the need for council staff to travel by car into Shrewsbury – and “if other organisations both public and private are considering similar changes, then there is likely to be a significant reduction in travel on our road network”.
He asked: “Will Shropshire Council therefore follow the logic of its own post Covid-19 planning to review the need for the North West Relief Road (NWRR)?”
Steve Charmley, portfolio holder for assets and economic growth, said the traffic modelling exercise undertaken to support the NWRR proposals took into account planned growth within and around Shrewsbury.
He added: “The NWRR addresses issues around road safety, air quality, walking and cycling uptake and the journey time reliability against the background of a growing town.
“These outputs remain a priority for Shropshire Council both at the current time and during the period of post-Covid recovery.
“It fully acknowledges the potential for variation in travel and transport activity at the current time and going forward the NWRR will therefore take a lead from the Department for Transport guidance as regards any requirements to adjust the forecasts and benefits that will accrue from the NWRR as a result of the current Covid situation.
“Until such time as any variation to the current output model approach is mandated, Shropshire Council will continue to approach the NWRR in its current form.”
The planned route, which now includes the previously separate Oxon Link Road, will connect the A5 at the Welshpool Road roundabout in the west to the Ellesmere Road roundabout in the north, with new bridges over the River Severn and the Shrewsbury to Chester railway line.
The council says it will cut journey times and reduce congestion and pollution in the town centre, but critics have called it a waste of money and raised fears over the environmental impact it will have.
The project will cost an estimated £71 million, £54 million of which has been secured in government funding specifically for the scheme.
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