Midlands Connect has revealed the first ever improvement plan for the entire A46 corridor, with a 20-year vision to future-proof the route and boost the national economy.
Taking a “corridor approach” to improving the whole A46 through the Midlands could boost the economy by £7.1Bn, says Sub-national Transport Body Midlands Connect. The pan-Midlands transport agency is calling for urgent, co-ordinated action to improve traffic flows on one of the country’s most important trade routes.
The 20-year vision will help future-proof the route and boost the national economy. The A46 corridor stretches for 155 miles from Gloucestershire to Lincolnshire, is home to 5.5M people and 2.9M jobs, with an economic output of £115Bn a year, equivalent to nine per cent of the English economy.
The Office of National Statistics forecasts an increase of 600,000 new residents and 250,000 new homes within the corridor by 2041. With 150,000 new jobs on the line too, Midlands Connect says only a comprehensive, holistic solution to improving the A46 can support this growth.
Stage One of the A46 Corridor Study recommends the acceleration of coordinated investment at key congestion hotspots – including Evesham, Stratford-upon-Avon, Coventry, Leicester, Newark and Lincoln – where rush hour average speeds regularly fall below 20mph.
Midlands Connect’s improvement plan builds on the work already being done by Highways England and local authorities to improve pinch points along the A46, and on the success of the A46 Partnership – a coalition of LEPs and councils between Gloucestershire and Leicestershire – in promoting the route as one of local, regional, national and international significance.
Maria Machancoses, Director, Midlands Connect, said: “Using today’s approach to funding, it could be 40 years before the A46 receives the investment it needs to match the growth in jobs and housing expected along the corridor. We must do things differently and accelerate a long-term investment plan to make sure economic growth isn’t held back. Delivering our vision will not only make our businesses more prosperous, it will improve the quality of life of millions of people living and working along the corridor. Doing nothing will hold back this progress.”
Network planning director for Highways England, Jeremy Bloom, said: “We recognise the importance of the A46 corridor to the Strategic Road Network and the contribution it makes to the Midlands economy and beyond. We also support a more strategic approach to long-term investment and will continue to work closely with Midlands Connect to develop potential solutions for the route and to make the case for investment within the context of our national remit.”
The second stage of Midlands Connect’s A46 corridor study will further develop the proposed improvements and their respective business cases, and is due for release in 2019.
If you are interested in finding out more about key infrastructure trends today, you may wish to attend the flagship infrastructure exhibition at the NEC in April 2019 : UKIS 2019