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Notts council offers to stump up £20M of own cash to get axed road scheme reinstated

Nottinghamshire County Council is offering to stump up £20M towards the axed £164M widening of the A453.

The scheme was one of 14 road projects put on hold by transport secretary Phillip Hammond after last October’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

The A453 has been a top priority for improvement in the East Midlands for many years. The Nottinghamshire section of the road is the second most congested part of the national road network after a short section of the M25.

It also has a poor safety record and high volumes of traffic. In the five years up to October 2010, there were 185 accidents involving personal injury on just the Nottinghamshire part of the A453.

Nottinghamshire County Council Leader Kay Cutts said: “The A453 is the weakest link in the regional road network and the road, in its current state, is severely limiting the economic recovery and development of the area. 

“Its widening is fundamental to unlocking the huge economic potential of our vibrant county. We already know that the traffic delays encountered, especially by businesses, are having a detrimental effect upon inward investment.”

It is forecast that up to 30,000 vehicles a day will travel along the route by 2027, making congestion even worse.

The proposed scheme would have the capacity to safely handle this increase in numbers and attract traffic back to the A453, reducing the volume of traffic on a number of local roads. It will also improve access to East Midlands Parkway station.

Following last autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the A453 scheme was put on hold along with 13 other schemes across the country where no decision to go ahead is expected until at least 2015, after the next General Election.

But since then the Department for Transport has indicated it would like to identify a small number of ‘reserve’ schemes where construction could potentially start earlier if circumstances allowed.

A decision from the Government as to whether any of the reserve schemes will be accelerated for early construction is expected during 2011.

The council sent a letter to Hammond on Wednesday outlining its suggestion.

“Nottinghamshire County Council is keen to do everything in its power to expedite this situation,” said Cutts.

“Our contribution would be raised through borrowing and repaid over a number of years because of the challenging budgetary pressures we’re currently facing.

“This is a major financial decision for us and we don’t underestimate the significance of this offer at a time of much-needed capital support for our schools, libraries, youth centres and older people’s facilities.”

The Department for Transport considers that the scheme offers good value for money and the Council’s offer will increase the local contribution which the Government is keen to see on all major schemes.

The scheme to dual the road has already been through a public inquiry.

The Council’s cash pledge is subject to approval at meetings of its Cabinet and full Council.

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