FIRST of all, it is fantastic news that the government is investing in the road infrastructure along the south coast and, in particular, to provide better access in and out of and around Chichester. However, as with any spending, using the money wisely will be essential.
The £250,000,000 to £350,000,000 investment that Highways England has to play with can be used to improve the two traffic issues facing the city. One is getting through traffic from east to west and vice versa.
The other one, and the one which affects local people and businesses the most, is the movement from south to north into and out of the city across the existing A27.
Let us hope that common sense prevails and the existing A27 is improved to provide solutions to traffic from east to west and also from south to north.
Building a brand-new expressway to the north of the city, causing irreparable damage to the Downs landscape, might, on the face of it, seem the easiest and cheapest option to the Highways England engineers but will only provide a solution to the east/west traffic problem.
If the Highways England budget is spent on a northern bypass, there will never be enough money in West Sussex County Council budgets (current annual road spend is in the region of £40,000,000 for the entire county) to improve the existing A27 to the extent that the current rush-hour traffic problems are solved or even partially eased.
Commuters into and out of Chichester will be consigned to ever-lengthening jams for ever more.
There will only be one chance to get this right.
Residents and businesses both to the south and the north of Chichester must rise up to ensure that the decision-makers are left in no doubt as to what is in the best interests of the city and its surroundings.
Get it wrong and the city and its surroundings will be devalued immeasurably.