Northern bypass ‘wouldn’t solve congestion on current A27’, transport secretary says

Mr Grayling is currently considering five final options for the A27, which don't include a northern bypass, with a prefferred route announcement expected early next year
Mr Grayling is currently considering five final options for the A27, which don't include a northern bypass, with a prefferred route announcement expected early next year

Building a northern bypass ‘would not solve congestion issues around the existing A27’ without substantial upgrading as well, the transport secretary has told Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie.

The Rt Hon. Chris Grayling, the Government’s secretary of state for transport, said even if a new route north of Chichester was constructed, traffic analysis showed that by 2025, the roundabouts on the existing southern bypass would exceed capacity.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie (left) were met by protesters outside the Chichester Conservative Association dinner last week

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie (left) were met by protesters outside the Chichester Conservative Association dinner last week

In October Mr Tyrie, MP for Chichester, wrote to Mr Grayling asking him to explain why two options for a northern route were scrapped just ahead of the public consultations.

In one of two letters of response to his fellow Conservative MP, Mr Grayling said: “Highways England analysis suggests that, even if there were a northern bypass, the congestion issues would not be solved without upgrades to the southern part as most of the traffic is local, particularly in the context of the planned extra housing.

“The 2010 study showed that the removal of traffic from the existing Southern bypass was unlikely to be sufficient to allow the existing bypass junctions to operate adequately with capacity up to 2025.

“Even with reduced traffic along the existing bypass, it appears that four of the existing junctions would have inadequate capacity in the design year of 2025, and as such, would have a direct impact on delivery of the local transport proposals.

“Futhermore, many of the local and trunk road improvements would not complement each other, as the current proposals do.

“This would mean that in addition to the northern bypass, further improvements would need to be carried out to some of the junctions on the existing bypass as well.

“Traffic analysis showed that Fishbourne and Bognor junctions would reach capacity before 2025, even with the through traffic taken out.

“As such, these junctions would require substantial improvements even with a northern route.”

Highways England is currently considering five options for upgrading the current 3.5mile stretch, ranging from £47m-£280m with Mr Grayling expected to announce a preferred route early next year.

Mr Tyrie had also told Mr Grayling that ‘abruptly postponing’ the public consultations and dropping the northern options just before they were due to take place earlier this year ‘left my constituents with understandable concerns about the transparency of the decision-making’.

He also asked why, if the cost range for the Chichester A27 scheme was between £122-£181m, there were two on-line options more expensive than this, with Option 2 costing £280m.

Mr Tyrie said: “If the envelope can stretch to £280m, why can it not stretch to £307m, the cost of the least expensive northern route?”

In response, Mr Grayling said that cost range for the Chichester scheme set out in the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) was between £100m-£250m, though Highways Englands’ capital plan funding assumption was to spend towards the lower end, between £122m-£181m.

He said while Option 2, which includes a controversial new ‘Stockbridge Link Road’ over Chichester canal and the demolition of 20 buildings, was estimated at £280m, expected efficiencies in delivering the scheme expected to bring it into range.

Saying that compensation for loss of business was not included in the costings, and perhaps hinting that the amount due to the Goodwood Estate, which would be dissected by any northern road, Mr Grayling said: “This is not the case for the northern bypass options, which are clearly not deliverable within the cost range in the RIS.”

He also said that 22 different route options for Chichester had been considered, before being narrowed down to the final five currently being looked at.

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