Million pound road deal set to be given green light

Shrewsbury’s new £71.4 million relief road will ease congestion, boost the economy and reduce greenhouse gases in the town centre, a senior council officer has said.

Professor Mark Barrow, executive director of place at Shropshire Council, will present a paper to full council on Thursday.

In it he invites the council to accept £54.4 million government funding and sign off the full business case.

Professor Barrow said the primary objective is “to improve Shrewsbury as a place in which to live, work and invest, by reducing congestion.”

He said should everything go to plan, construction could start in Spring 2022, with the road opening in Spring 2023.

Professor Barrow said: “The proposal has been in the public domain for many years. 

“There have been numerous studies and evaluation exercises around the proposal throughout its lifetime, although none of these to date have proceeded to a full bid for construction costs. 

“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.”

He said main problems were congestion, people using rat runs, high town centre carbon emissions and unreliable journey times.

“In the future, as the town grows and background traffic demand increases, if nothing is done it is expected that all of the above problems will worsen,” he added. 

“Traffic congestion is likely to get worse and journey times will become longer and less predictable as the network becomes less resilient, affecting both public and private transport. 

“Rat-running could increase, as could accidents.”

Professor Barrow said the government funding is capped at £54.4 million, with the council set to put in £17 million.

Any overspend will have to be met by the council.

The deal will be signed off by the full council at a meeting at 10am on Thursday.

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