Cambridgeshire County Council is poised to bring in a congestion charging scheme as part of a bid for £500M of the government’s Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) cash.
The council’s cabinet has backed a plan put forward by an independent transport commission led by Sir Brian Briscoe, a former chief executive of the Local Government Association.
Cambridgeshire plans to use the cash to fund improvements to public transport and its roads network as well as walking and cycling facilities.
Congestion charging zones would be introduced in Cambridge, but only when congestion reaches an “unacceptable” level. This is expected to be after 2017, after the TIF funded improvements are in place.
Cambridgeshire is also asking for early confirmation of government funding for a new £20M station at Chesterton, north of Cambridge. It is hoped construction will start in 2012 − three years earlier than planned.
The final decision
The decision taken by Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet will be put to a full council meeting on 13 October before any final decision on a TIF bid is made.
A full bid could be submitted towards the end of 2010, following a public consultation. The Department for Transport’s £2bn TIF has struggled to attract credible bids since it was started in 2008. A huge bid from Manchester City Council failed after local voters rejected plans to introduce a congestion charge.
TIF money has been earmarked for London’s Crossrail project, but the Conservatives have pledged to scrap the fund, while honouring agreements already signed.
TIF has had a difficult journey through government. A huge bid by Manchester was defeated by a public vote last year, and TIF money has been earmarked to pay for Crossrail in the interim.
Cash left unclaimed could be recycled to fund other government schemes, and the Conservatives have promised to scrap the scheme, but would honour any contracts that had already been signed.