Northern Powerhouse study to look at upgrading SCR4 in Newcastle

Government announces £500,000 study to look into upgrade of important North East roads as part of Northern Powerhouse.

A £500,000 study is to be carried out to look into ways of dealing with notorious traffic blackspots in the North East as part of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative.

It will examine the case for upgrading at least one of Newcastle’s planned Strategic Cycle Route, if not all seven, into a cycle freeway to improve important links into the city centre.

The move has been welcomed by business leaders who said if the report does lead to an upgrade of these routes it will provide a massive and much-needed boost to the regional city of Newcastle.

The SCR4 runs from Great Park to Newcastle centre. The remaining SCRs are also radial corridors into the city centre. In addition, a circular SCR is currently in the strategical planning assessment stage.

Jonathan Walker, North East Chamber of Commerce head of policy and campaigns, said: “If the North East is to play a meaningful role in the Northern Powerhouse then improving our urban connectivity and improving its public realm is vital. This announcement is therefore hugely welcome.

“Building these cycle freeways would be a major boost also to huge number of businesses who rely on customers from across the city.

“Alongside assessing the technical requirements of these projects and its undoubted health and lifestyle benefits, the Government must recognise the enormous business benefits this would bring.”

Highways England has awarded the study contract to international engineering consultancy firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff as part of the government’s Walking and Cycling Investment Strategy.

It has been commissioned by the Department for Transport, Transport for the North and receives full support from the Chamber of Commerce.

Road Minister Andrew Jones said: “As part of our long-term economic plan we are investing a record £13bn in urban transport infrastructure in the Region, meaning more jobs and opportunities for people across the region by providing the right infrastructure for a modern confident city, signalling its open for business.

“Our investment is helping create a Northern Powerhouse and ensuring hardworking people up and down the country feel the benefits of economic growth.”

Nigel Edwards, divisional director of strategic planning at Highways England, said: “A new cycle freeway providing a direct link between Newcastle’s North to its city centre would mean business and customer would no longer have to solely rely on outdated and polluting forms of transport.

“We’re already creating smart cycleways elsewhere in other regions, but the new strategic regional study will look at what else can be done to alleviate congestion, create jobs, attract professionals by offering improved quality of life in this part of the Northeast region, starting in its regional centre Newcastle.”

And Dr Jon Lamonte, lead officer for Transport for the North, said: “Tackling congestion hotspots across urban networks is a vital element of TfN’s long-term strategic programme and will deliver significant, transformational benefits for commuters, visitors and businesses.

“As such, this announcement marks another important step forward in delivering our vision of a North which acts as a magnet for inward investment and capitalises on the combined strengths of its towns and cities, as we work towards the publication of an updated Northern Transport Strategy to be presented to the Chancellor by the 2016 Budget.”

I had to change surprisingly little text to adapt the Evening Chronicle article to cycling. Especially the quotes from people stayed quite untouched – which seems to suggest that we are either dealing with a lot of empty waffle and rhetoric or that the subjects are really similar or related. Yes. If they could only believe and talk about health-wealth giving sustainable transport as they do about restricting and destructive motorism. The original newspaper article can be read by clicking here.

And to add, if it really was about freight and transporting goods, why not reduce public traffic on those roads and improve the rail links? As we know, road widening is not working.

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