Improvements to major route between Leamington and Warwick approved despite criticism it favours motorists over cyclists and pedestrians
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Improvements to the A452 Europa Way corridor have been put forward to tackle congestion and handle anticipated increases caused by the development of thousands of homes in the coming years.
It includes upgrading Europa Way to a dual carriageway between the M40 and Leamington Shopping Park, upgrading junctions, creating new accesses into development sites, a park and ride, plus cycling and walking provision.
One element is a Warwickshire County Council-led project to increase the vehicle capacity at the Fords Foundry and Queensway roundabouts, including traffic signals and additional crossings on approaches to boost safety.
The council’s report, authored by Simon Prescott who works in engineering design services, states: “This is considered to be essential to accommodate the perceived increase in traffic now and in the future arising from developments and job creation along the A452 Europa Way corridor and from growth outside the immediate corridor.
“Without such enhancements to effectively manage traffic demand, the predicted growth in the area is unlikely to be fully realised as delays and congestion will continue to be a barrier.”
Councils must hold public consultations on projects of this scale and were left with one objection having addressed the others.
A response to the council’s efforts, which has been anonymised, read: “There is no doubt in my mind that the works will act to encourage greater car dependency with some minor concessions to try to appease vulnerable road users.
“In regard to the upgrades being necessary to deliver the housing, I understand WCC has significantly weakened its position with the developers by agreeing to have a watching brief on other upgrade projects that they would have presumably funded. You can do this because traffic is not a fixed demand, it responds to the infrastructure provided.
“Whilst appreciating the limited scope of the consultation at this stage I'm not overly inclined to formally remove my objection. Presumably, if I don't then it ends up with the portfolio holder for the final decision. I think it's important that decision makers are aware of push back otherwise nothing is going to change.”
Mr Prescott’s report said the response suggests a "perception that the council is too focused on delivering highway improvements that benefit car travel to the detriment of active travel” which was “not specifically related to this scheme”.
He concluded: “The highway scheme will deliver notable benefits to cycling and walking through the inclusion of pedestrian crossings and improved links, which reinforces the connectivity to facilities and amenities that largely removes the barriers towards cycling and walking being considered as a viable alternative to the private car.”
It meant the project required the approval of portfolio holder for transport and planning Councillor Jan Matecki (Con, Budbrooke & Bishop’s Tachbrook) who signed it off on Friday (August 4).
The council's website says work is due to start in winter 2023 and is expected to last for 11 months.