Two new MRN schemes in £93m road spend

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed £93m for three major road upgrade schemes across the country, including schemes funded as part of the major road network (MRN) and the Local Large Majors programmes.

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The A59 at Kex Gill

More than half the new cash will be spent in the North, with up to £56m for a ‘dramatic overhaul’ of the Kex Gill section of the A59 in North Yorkshire, which the Department for Transport (DfT) said will significantly improve connectivity between of Harrogate and Skipton.

A proposed new road will divert traffic away from the landslip-prone Kex Gill part of the route.

North Yorkshire County Council told Highways that the scheme has been awarded Programme Entry status within the Large Local Majors programme. This means that funding remains subject to final approval from the DfT.

The council will contribute £4m to the £60m scheme.

Council leader Carl Les called the announcement ‘an important milestone towards bringing this much-needed project to fruition’.

The council said its planning committee has resolved to support the planning application for the realigned route but that decision is subject to the outcome of a third party request for the communities secretary to call in the application.

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Birchley Island

Sandwell MBC will receive £24m MRN cash for a scheme that aims to reduce congestion at Birchley Island, situated at the intersection of the M5, A4123 and A4034.

The council is contributing the remaining £5.7m to the £30m scheme, which will widen the existing carriageway on the roundabout and introduce additional lanes, with ‘improved facilities for greener travel at the intersection’.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: ‘Birchley Island has been notorious with Black Country residents for years due to the amount of congestion that builds up, and so I am delighted to have helped secure the funding we need from Government to finally give the roundabout a major overhaul.’

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The Redbridge viaduct consists of four structures in all

Hampshire County Council will receive £13m MRN funding for upgrades to the Redbridge Causeway bridges over the River Test, which provide access for local businesses and hauliers to Southampton docks, and link the city to the New Forest.

The DfT said the funding announcement follows ministers’ agreement to speed up delivery of the proposed maintenance work.

DfT guidance for funding bids state: ‘The Department’s contribution for MRN interventions will normally be between £20 million and £50 million, although the lower threshold will not be applied rigidly.’

As Highways magazine has reported, a £3.5bn funding pot for Large Local Majors and the MRN appears to have been scaled back to around £1.5bn.

The cash for the causeway is for the third and final phase of a repair programme to all four structures, with Hampshire County Council making up the (£2.4m) remainder of the costs of this phase. It said that around £25m worth of repairs will have been made to causeway once all the works are complete.

Rob Humby, deputy leader and executive member for environment and transport, described the announcement as ‘fantastic news for the area’s economy’, adding: ‘I hope it is also a signal for our forthcoming partnership bid for a Freeport.’

Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, which submitted the funding bid, said: 'A high-quality, reliable transport network is critical to our region’s economic recovery and future sustainable growth, so it’s good news that one of our top 10 priority road schemes can now go ahead.'

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: ‘Just last week, AA members said that the nation’s roads were in a state of disrepair so this is welcome news. We desperately need more investment filtering down to local levels as the more local you get, the worse the picture is.’

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