England’s Economic Heartland Alliance has issued a call for more investment on the A428 trunk road corridor.
A partnership of councils and local enterprise partnerships from Oxfordshire through to Milton Keynes and Cambridgeshire, the alliance is advocating work from the A1 to the Black Cat Roundabout to Caxton Gibbet.
The stretch of single carriageway is described by Heather Smith, chair of the Strategic Transport Forum, as a “true bottleneck in every sense of the word.
Ms Smith adds: “You don’t need me to tell anyone who uses this section regularly just how poor and unreliable it is.”
Although the Government’s current road investment strategy includes plans to deliver improvements in 2020, the alliance’s transport forum has issued the call for a full upgrade to expressway standard for the troublesome nine-mile section.
Ms Smith, who is also the leader of Northamptonshire County Council, adds: “We have ‘expressway’ standard, dual carriageway sections either side. The A421 and A428 corridor forms one of the key east-west routes across our area, yet we have this narrow ‘country lane’ section which is helping no one.
“Both the Government and the Strategic Alliance share the ambition to create an expressway standard route between Oxford and Cambridge. While the Government has identified the need for a solution, the strategic importance of resolving this bottleneck means that the sooner we have a long-term solution being delivered the better.
“Yes, of course, we accept that this may require Government needing to find additional money, but there’s no doubt that this section fully deserves it, such is the importance of this corridor to the Heartland and the rest of the UK.
“Our message to Government is to invest once, invest sufficiently and invest soon – the payback for local people, businesses and the UK economy as a whole will be enormous.”
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson said, “Bedford Borough residents and businesses who rely on this section of road know how completely unsuitable it is. A piecemeal improvement here just won’t cut it – a proper upgrade with expressway standard dual carriageway in both directions is essential.
The National Infrastructure Commission is currently examining the issue of improving east-west connectivity to support greater economic growth in greater detail.