Councillor Dean Carroll said there was a desperate need to cut the number of accidents on the A49 between Shrewsbury and the Herefordshire border south of Ludlow, which has been branded “one of the most dangerous roads in England”.
There are no plans yet for what the scheme might entail, but Councillor Carroll said it was one of two “next big projects” that officers would start to seriously look at after the proposed North West Relief Road, along with ambitions to dual the A5 between Shrewsbury and Chirk.
He said: “We wouldn’t even be looking at these if we didn’t think that the business cases were strong and the reasons were good enough, but we need to make sure in our preparatory work for the A5 and A49 that they stack up.
“We are doing the North West Relief Road, so we have got to look at the other transport networks.”
As well as safety concerns, a programme of improvements is also expected to focus on addressing the problems caused for the town of Craven Arms by having the busy A49 “cutting straight through it”.
“At the moment we are pumping all of that through traffic, haulage and freight traffic, from South Wales to the South West, through Craven Arms,” said Councillor Carroll, who took over as cabinet member for highways in September.
“That’s something we will have to look at once we have got the time and capacity in the system.”
It is also hoped that any improvements will go hand-in-hand with plans to create a new roundabout to the north of Craven Arms and a road bridge over the railway line.
The council submitted a multi-million pound bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) earlier this year, but found out last month that it had been unsuccessful in the first round – along with Shropshire’s two other bids for schemes in Shrewsbury and Oswestry.
Councillor Carroll said: “The LUF news was very disappointing but we are confident that the bids themselves are sound and we will be resubmitting them for the next round of funding.
“We will also be exploring all other potential external funding streams that can help deliver these important projects.”
Councillor Carroll said he had “everything crossed” that the Craven Arms bid would be successful in the next round of the LUF, to unlock land for a new food park, business units and housing developments.
He said: “Craven Arms has been at a standstill in terms of growth for houses and in terms of businesses because, with the road and the highway configuration as they are, you can’t access the identified growth land.
“There are businesses in Craven Arms that want to expand that don’t have premises to expand to.
“We don’t want them to decide that their only recourse is to expand elsewhere because that would be terrible for the town of Craven Arms.
“The reason we put in the bid is because we want to support Craven Arms to grow sustainably, retain and expand existing businesses and hopefully people pull in new business investment as well that will bring in new jobs.”
Councillor Carroll added that while the North West Relief Road “stacks up” because it will free up council-owned land to be sold for development, the Craven Arms project is reliant on “bringing money in from outside”.
He said: “If the LUF bid isn’t successful we need to find other external funding sources.
“Without the LUF it becomes very difficult.”