A27 improvement plans for Chichester could be scaled back

The Department of Transport confirmed development work on a scheme would continue, ‘with the aim’ of starting construction after 2015. But no firm dates were given.

Thursday, 4th November 2010, 6:45 am

There are clear indications the delayed project will be drastically reduced in scale – the latest estimate was £200m, but the cost was subsequently ‘capped’ at £130m, implying earlier plans would be cut back.

The original ambitious scheme for the A27, which carries 45,000 vehicles a day, put forward by the Highways Agency included a number of flyovers.

It is understood the latest proposals, designed to a ‘limited budget’, include just one flyover and improvements to the remainder of the road.

The latest announcements follow strong pressure from Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie, who told the Observer the area was suffering from ‘London-scale congestion’.

He said: “I don’t agree that funding should now be delayed for the A27 bypass, which remains in dire need of improvement. We cannot carry on like this.”

He had written to Mike Penning, the minister responsible for roads within the DoT, asking him to reconsider the decision to delay the construction of this much-needed bypass around Chichester.

However, he was informed a number of works on the A27 as a whole would continue in the next 12 months, including a new footbridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the road, just to the west of Whyke Road. This was good news.

Mr Tyrie, who has been campaigning about the A27 for many years, said traffic on Chichester roads was now beyond the limit of what was acceptable.

“I am particularly disturbed that the whole of the roads budget for the area has been absorbed by the A3 Hindhead tunnel project, costing £371m,” he added.

“As a result, thousands of my constituents find themselves queueing for upwards of an hour in the morning to cross the A27 to get to work.

“This is London-scale congestion, and it is simply unacceptable.”

The Chichester area could cope with more housing only if it were going to have the infrastructure to go with it – roads and sewerage.

“For years there has been a lack of joined-up government thinking on this.

“It is the sort of thing one hears the Victorians complained about, and finally did something to resolve,” said Mr Tyrie.

Proposals for the Chichester bypass went out for consultation six years ago, but a statement issued by West Sussex County Council said there had been little progress, and fears over a shortfall in government funding had meant the Highways Agency had been forced to look at lower-cost options.

A further public consultation had been expected this year.

Lionel Barnard, the county’s deputy leader, who has responsibility for highways and transport, said: “Although we don’t yet know what the scheme will actually entail, the fact improvements are finally moving forward is a positive development.”