'Another 40 years of traffic misery' - anger at decision NOT to build Sudbury bypass
PUBLISHED: 15:53 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:43 09 November 2018
The decision to not build a bypass in Sudbury means "residents and visitors will be left with another 40 years of traffic misery", according to a county councillor.
Suffolk County Council (SCC) has announced that the option of building a bypass will not be taken forward at this time, despite providing “a lot of benefits to the town”.
SCC said the cost – at between £50million and £70million – is “prohibitively high resulting in a low benefit cost ratio”.
The county council said it will now consider a multi-million pound programme to upgrade busy road junctions in Sudbury to ease traffic congestion in the town following advice from independent experts WSP.
The campaign for a bypass in Sudbury was launched last year and divided opinion in the community, with some welcoming the idea while others were concerned over its environmental impact on the surrounding Water Meadows.
Jack Owen, county councillor and Labour spokesman for transport and rural affairs, said: “The announcement that the Sudbury bypass will not be built means that the residents and visitors to our great town will be left with another 40 years of traffic misery.
“The proposed improvements to the very worst junctions in the town are welcome, but as far as I was concerned these were going to happen as well as, not instead of, the bypass.
“These schemes will cause massive upheaval in the town for many years, but will not address the fundamental problem of too many vehicles in the town. “Given the planned population increase in Sudbury due to the Chilton Woods development and other housing schemes, the traffic chaos this decision creates will be disastrous for the town.
“The county council have rolled over in the face of the misinformation spouted by the opponents of the bypass who do not care one bit about what is good for Sudbury.”
The junctions proposed for development in the town are: A134/A131/B1064, A134/B1115, A134/Newton Road/Shawlands Avenue, A131/Newton Road/Cornard Road/Great Eastern Road (Belle Vue Junction), A131 Ballingdon Hill/Bulmer Road.
Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and rural issues, said; “We have looked at a number of ways to relieve congestion around Sudbury town centre and have considered all options including the construction of a bypass.
“Taking all this into account, the most feasible option for us now is to improve existing infrastructure rather than building a new road. That is what we are now focusing our attention and resources on.“The priority for Suffolk County Council is to find the best solution for Sudbury.”
The council says it will now work with WSP to design junction improvements in more detail and model what the junction improvements could achieve, as well as assessing whether other complementary measures, such as improvements for walking and cycling, would provide additional benefits.
SCC says it will also look to secure a source of funding for this work.
Robert Lindsay, Green Party county councillor, who spearheaded the Save Our Water Meadows campaign, said the decision is “great news”.
“It is great news that Suffolk County Council have realised, at last, that the damage from a bypass built beautiful, tranquil countryside, used and loved by thousands of people, will far outweigh any supposed benefits.
“What is needed now is a fresh, holistic look at the transport situation in Sudbury.
“There are not enough buses linking Cornard with Sudbury, there is virtually no bus service to the health centre built on the north side of town and there are not enough buses linking towns people with the main employment centre on the east of town.
“A huge proportion of people driving to Sudbury are driving less than one mile distance.
“Using £10m as a seed fund, we could draw up a plan to make the town a beacon for walking and cycling and public transport. We should prioritise road space for bus lanes, cycle lanes and pedestrians, encouraging more people to leave their cars at home.”
James Cartlidge MP for South Suffolk, who campaigned for the bypass, said the focus must now be on getting the local funding to ensure the junction improvements take place.
“It’s important to focus on the facts: an initial business case suggested a bypass would have a positive benefit to cost ratio,” he said.
“This more detailed report has concluded otherwise because, as I understand, the potential upside has been downgraded because reduced economic growth forecasts have cut expected HGV movements, and therefore potential ‘benefit’, whilst a more detailed examination of the work needed has increased the predicted cost.
“The current ratio would therefore to be too low to achieve central government funding.
“None of us wanted to build a bypass for the sake of it, we wanted to solve the congestion problem in Sudbury.
“The report was instructed to look at all possible solutions and has concluded that investment in the existing road network, i.e. key junctions, would be better than a new road.
“This conclusion may disappoint some, particularly those suffering from current pollution, but we should remember that although junction improvements are much cheaper than a bypass they would not be centrally funded.
“Thus, we must now focus on two priorities – getting the local funding to ensure these improvements actually happening, but above all, tying them in to the wider plans to regenerate Sudbury town centre so that we really do see some benefit.”