TRANSPORT secretary Chris Grayling has today given the green light for £142.5m funding for the controversial Western Link which could help create thousands of new jobs and homes in Warrington.
The new road, which will cost a total of £212m, will connect the A56 at Chester Road with the A57 at Sankey Way, will create a new crossing point over the Mersey, cutting congestion and opening up land for development for up to 24,000 new homes and substantial employment opportunities.
The scheme, which has been opposed locally by some residents, will also create job opportunities at the Port of Warrington, boosting the economy of the whole area.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “The new Western Link Road will significantly benefit both road users and residents in Warrington, and is the latest instalment of the government’s record £13 billion investment in transport across the north of England.
“The Western Link Road creates an additional key link between the north and south of Warrington, taking shipping traffic away from the town centre.
“It will also ease congestion close to Warrington Bank Quay station, improving journey times in and around the town, while an additional bridge will be built over the Manchester Shipping Canal.”
Construction on the new road could start as early as 2021.
This is part of the government’s £13 billion investment in northern transport, which includes Highways England’s £1.5 billion to enhance motorways and major A roads in the north west as well as £1.57 billion from the growth deal for more than 60 transport schemes in the region until 2021.
In addition, Warrington West Station, which received £4.23 million from the New Stations Fund, is due to be completed later this year. When complete, Northern Rail will provide two trains an hour.
Meanwhile Mr Grayling has praised a Conservative MP candidate Andy Carter’s campaign to tackle congestion as the Government confirms £142m for the new Western Link Road.
Cllr Carter, who was recently selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Warrington South, said he believed infrastructure investment was long overdue and the link road was a step forward to tackling long-standing congestion problems the town has faced for years.
He said: “This is really good news for Warrington. If we want to see regeneration in the town centre we have to solve the congestion problems which are a barrier to growth. A new bridge is desperately needed and this will make a major difference to the traffic problems around Bridgefoot.
“This decision will help to ensure the continued economic success and prosperity of our town and re-enforces the government’s commitment to boosting productivity in the north of England.
“However I remain totally opposed to proposals for use of the green belt in the local plan, the council have yet to demonstrate they have made a realistic assessment of the number of homes the borough needs. Warrington simply cannot justify the level of building suggested in their plans.”
Commenting on the announcement and Andy’s campaign pledge to tackle congestion, Mr Grayling said: “Andy Carter has consistently campaigned for investment into the town’s road network to tackle long standing congestion issues.
“The £142m Western Link Road in Warrington provides the high-level ship canal crossing needed and my department have been working closely with the council to ensure that it will be delivered. Investing in our transport network, particularly in the North of England, is a major Conservative focus, ensuring we can make it easier for people to travel for work and to visit friends and families, and for local businesses to grow.”
The funding has been welcomed by Warrington Borough Council who are contributing £70.2m to the scheme.
Council Leader, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “This decision is great news for Warrington – it’s a welcome announcement that will help to keep our town moving.
“We need to support residents, visitors and businesses with the right infrastructure and, recognising Warrington’s growth over the decades and our future aspirations, this bypass is a vital part of helping to alleviate town centre traffic congestion and improve air quality.
“Investing in our transport infrastructure has, and continues to be, a priority and I’m pleased we’ve finally had confirmation that we can progress the Western Link scheme. This has been a lengthy process, and I’m grateful for the support we have received in getting the decision over the line – not least Faisal Rashid MP for his continued advocacy and commitment to the scheme.”
Cllr Hans Mundry, executive board member for highways and transportation, added: “The Western Link is a critical part of the Council’s Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4) proposals. It will allow major improvements to be made to access in and around the town centre – by all types of transport.
“The completion of the scheme, expected by the mid-2020s, will provide a ‘missing link’ in the town’s transport network – and it supports our ambitions to tackle town centre congestion and our air quality improvement plans.”