Quarterly meetings lined up over Shrewsbury relief road
Quarterly meetings will be held with the government to ensure funding for a major relief road is not delayed or axed.
Shropshire Council says it will meet with the Department for Transport four times a year to ensure it does not suffer any changes to the terms of its £54.4 million government grant for Shrewsbury’s North West Relief Road.
And it has also revealed that the planning application for the road will be submitted next January, with a decision to be taken by the planning committee in spring 2020.
A public inquiry will be held in spring/summer of 2021 and the contract will be handed out to a construction firm in winter 2021, with work starting in spring 2022 ahead of a spring 2024 opening.
The authority’s Place Overview Committee will meet to discuss how the project will be overseen on Thursday.
It will discuss the potential loss of government backing due to national funding shortages.
It will also highlight how it will hold market talks over construction costs shortly in a bid to avoid spiralling costs – which would have to be met by the authority.
Matt Johnson, strategic projects executive manager, said: “The primary aim of the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road is to improve Shrewsbury as a place in which to live, work and invest, by reducing congestion.
“A risk is that DfT Funding could be withdrawn at any time due to national funding issues.
“To combat this we have ongoing liaison with DfT nationally on a quarterly basis on project monitoring and forecasting, also ongoing local liaison with DfT stakeholder representative.
“This will allow the programme to be managed with maximum foresight of any changes to DfT funding allocations.”
He added: “The lack of a direct road link between the northern and western parts of the town has been a major source of traffic problems for a very long time.
“Both the northern and western approaches to the town centre are heavily congested at peak times, and the presence of through traffic in the town centre leads to long queues and delays, blocking back through key junctions.
“None of these routes is suitable for this traffic, but there are no practical alternatives for most trips.
“Shrewsbury continues to grow. New development is already under way at the southern Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE), and further growth is planned at the western SUE.
“Nationally, traffic levels are starting to rise again after the years of recession.
“The highway network is again under strain. One consequence of this is that incidents on one part of the network quickly lead to traffic backing up, or diverting, causing problems over a wider area.
“This lack of resilience is a concern. As traffic demand increases, we expect to see more traffic on the north-west corridor through the town, increased congestion, queuing and delay, adverse impacts on noise and air quality and increased transport costs to the regional and local economy.”