The business case for dualling the A47 between Peterborough and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire could be enhanced if thousands more new homes are built in the corridor, according to a report for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
The A47 is a trunk road and the main east-west route for the north of East Anglia, connecting the A1 at Peterborough with Wisbech, Kings Lynn, Norwich and the Norfolk coast at Great Yarmouth. The road is a mix of dual and single carriageway.
Highways England already has a programme of six improvements to the road – work on the A47/A12 junction enhancement is scheduled to commence in 2018/19 with the other projects due to commence in 2002/21 and 2021/22.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority mayor James Palmer has pledged to dual the remaining single carriageway sections of the road between Peterborough and Wisbech.
In a report to last week’s combined authority meeting, CA chief executive Martin Whiteley said dualling the road would complement the mayor’s ambition to extend the M11 north from Cambridge to the A47, and the Garden Town plan to build thousands of homes in Wisbech.
A strategic outline business case for dualling the A47 between the A16 junction near Peterborough and Walton Highway to the east of Wisbech has been completed. It identifies four sections of road for dualling at an estimated cost of £400m to £600m (present value). The sections are A16 to Thorney; Thorney bypass to Guyhirn; Guyhirn to Wisbech; and the Wisbech bypass to Walton Highway.
The assessment recommends further work on 12 of the 20 route options for the dualling. A further report on these options will be presented to the CA in September.
Two of the 12 options involve building a new alignment from Thorney bypass to Walton Highway round the north of Wisbech. The town currently has a bypass to the south.
Of the 12 route options, only one has a benefit:cost ratio (BCR) above 2 – the online dualling of the Wisbech bypass. The BCR for the three options between Guyhirn and Wisbech are in the range 0.42 to 0.69, representing poor value for money using the DfT’s categorisation system. The BCRs for the three options between the Thorney bypass and Guyhirn range from 0.87 to 1.44.
Said Whiteley: “Currently five of the 12 options proposed to be assessed in the options appraisal report have a BCR below 1.0. There are a number of reasons for carrying forward such low scoring options, including the need to achieve a coherent route, which might include both high- and low-scoring sections; future increases in BCR will be achieved through additional growth or if certain phases are delayed; the reduced impact on properties/businesses; and greater potential for improved buildability.”
The analysis has so far assumed that 20,000 new homes will be delivered in the corridor. But Whiteley said the potential for 30,000 more homes in the corridor has been identified. “This will further strengthen the case for dualling and will be factored into the strategic outline business case when it is finalised.”
The CA is to use a portion of its £74m Transforming Cities Fund grant award from the DfT to fund a public consultation and preparation of an outline business case for the road upgrade.
Whiteley said the current delivery timetable of 2026-2033 for the improvements was “not acceptable to the combined authority”. It will explore with the DfT ways to accelerating delivery to 2025 and 2027.
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