This week Highways England published three route options for the Arundel bypass for public consultation.
The consultation will run for eight weeks, until October 16. After that Highways England will choose a preferred route, on which there will be further consultation.
Then they will make a planning application which, as a nationally significant infrastructure project, will be evaluated by the Planning Inspectorate. The Inspectorate will make a recommendation to the Government in 2020. Assuming that the go-ahead is given, work is due to begin by the end of March that year and the bypass will be opened in 2023.
It is great news to see this public consultation which brings the much-needed Arundel bypass a step closer to reality. I strongly support a dual-carriageway bypass which is desperately needed to relieve congestion, reduce journey times and support the local economy. There would also be a net environmental gain, with less traffic rat-running through the historic town of Arundel and the South Downs National Park and its villages. Storrington, for instance, suffers some of the worst air quality in the South East.
I continue to favour the original ‘pink-blue’ route, now renamed Option 3, which was agreed by the whole community decades ago. The impact on woodland, which is replanted conifers, could be mitigated by creating a much greater area of new woodland.
I am concerned about Option 1 which would divide Arundel and be less effective in reducing congestion as there would still be traffic lights and roundabouts.
I appreciate that some people oppose a bypass, and there are also national anti-roads campaigners who are trying to stir up opposition.
I support more cycle lanes and greater investment in rail, but most people in my rural constituency rely on their cars.
A substantial majority of the 25,000 traffic movements through Arundel every day are not local, and the A27 there is already operating at or over capacity. With more housing planned the congestion will only get worse.
Arundel, and everyone who is frustrated by delays there, have waited for a bypass for decades. It was shelved by a Labour government. Now we have our best chance for years of securing it.
I believe that the overwhelming majority of local people want a proper bypass, and I urge everyone to have their say in the public consultation.
This substantial investment of between £100 and £250million was hard won, and we must not make the same mistake as at Chichester by losing it.
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