Two major road schemes received big developments yesterday in a huge boost for commuters across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.
The whole length of the A47 across the county may now be fully dualled with funding of up to £30 million set aside by the area’s mayoral authority.
And in further good news the bypass at the King’s Dyke Level Crossing between Peterborough and Whittlesey can now be built after millions of pounds of extra funding was found for the project which is already three years late.
Both transport schemes were approved at yesterday’s Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CA) board meeting. It turned attention away from Monday’s revelation that the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer, the leader of the CA, had personally decided to award a £94,500 payout to former chief executive Martin Whiteley without consulting with his board.
Yesterday’s meeting approved a study to look at fully dualling the A47 and approved £1 million funding for additional work which includes £200,000 for contingency studies and £800,000 to get the project to its next stage.
Highways England is already committed to dualling the stretch of the A47 between Wansford and Sutton, and the increased capacity of the Guyhirn roundabout. And if it gives the go-ahead to the full dualling of the road groundbreaking could begin as early as February 2019.
Peterborough City Council cabinet member for resources Cllr David Seaton said: “The A47 is already one of the most dangerous roads in the country in certain places as the number of crashes we read about in the newspaper every week highlights.”
The Peterborough Telegraph revealed in September that the A47 from Thorney through Guyhirn had seen 23 road collisions in just four months at an average of nearly one every five days.
Speaking about the King’s Dyke bypass Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “This route should’ve been done 20 years ago. The crossing tailbacks affect houses along the road for several miles, and residents cannot get out of their drives at peak times when the queues of traffic are at their worst.
“This project must be delivered, and now.”
The CA agreed to spend an extra £16.4 million on the new road and bridge after the project cost rose from £13.6 million to around £30 million.
The bypass is desperately needed as the level crossing is currently closed up to 23 minutes an hour, with that time set to get worse in future years due to an increased use of freighter and passenger trains.
Moreover, there are plans to build 1,000 new homes in Whittlesey.
The county council was forced to ask the CA for the extra funding due to a rise in land acquisition and construction costs.
City council leader Cllr John Holdich said: “Our transport users are having their economy damaged by this route as it currently stands.”
Meanwhile, Monday’s meeting of the CA’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee revealed that Mr Palmer decided to make the £94,500 payout to former chief Mr Whiteley on his own having taken “independent legal advice”.
Mr Whiteley was on a salary of £182,000 a year when he departed and did not serve any notice period.
The revelation surprised members on the committee.