Red route confirmed as plan for Deeside is unveiled

Reporter:

David Humphreys

Delivering a £200m road upgrade scheme is the centre piece of Welsh Government’s infrastructure plans for Deeside.

In a statement to the Senedd yesterday, Ken Skates, cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure, confirmed that the Welsh Government will adopt the “red” route as the preferred option for the A494/A55/A548 upgrades.

The plan, as revealed in the Leader on Monday, is the major element of a multi-layered investment into infrastructure in Deeside which includes improvement to the A494 River Dee bridge, a new Deeside Parkway rail station and cash for bus service improvements on the B5129 Deeside corridor.

Further announcements on metro initiatives in the Wrexham hub area are to come.

Addressing Assembly Members yesterday, Mr Skates, AM for Clwyd South, said he had reached the decision of selecting the red route as the preferred option after “taking into account the technical, social, economic and environmental aspects of the Deeside Corridor” plus the outcome of the public consultation held.

The red route involves a new road between the A55 and A458 via the Flintshire Bridge and a new junction to join the A55 near Northop/Flint Mountain.

Mr Skates said the option “includes increased capacity on the existing A548 and a new road between the A55 and A548 I believe, will address the transport problems we had previously identified in the A55/A494/A548 Deeside Corridor Improvement Key Stage 2 Study.

“The proposed route will help address the chronic congestion the area suffers, it will improve journey times for both businesses and commuting traffic, it will also strengthen the social and economic links between North Wales, Deeside Industrial Estate, Chester and beyond.

“Villages such as Oakenholt and Northop Hall will see the benefits from reduced through traffic on the A548 and B5125.”

Further investigations will now be held with a preliminary design to be drawn up.

Issues surrounding engineering and the environment will be taken into consideration, with comments made during consultation taken into consideration as well as looking at a junction strategy and options for side roads and accesses.

Mr Skates added that “it is critical that what we deliver with our investment today is fit for the future” and said the design will also take into consideration the demands that “may arise from advances in technology such as connected and autonomous vehicles”.

The cabinet secretary said the improvements outlined in his statement support the Deeside Plan published earlier this year by Flintshire Council.

Alongside the road upgrade, Mr Skates said the Welsh Government would also be progressing the delivery of the A494 River Dee Bridge Improvement scheme.

The scheme will investigate options that will resolve the “existing traffic bottleneck at this location of the network and overcome the serviceability issues with the existing bridge.”

Further investment of £4.7m has been committed to facilitating commercial development on top of the £5.5m already put into the Northern Gateway scheme to continue with building additional road infrastructure to open land for development and attract further businesses to locate at the site.

Senedd officials are also currently discussing with Network Rail the commissioning of further work on a new Deeside Parkway and co-locating Shotton High at Shotton Low.

Mr Skates said this would “enable a seamless interchange for passengers wanting to change between the Wrexham-Bidston line and the North Wales Coast mainline” while the Deeside Parkway would offer “an exciting opportunity to improve access to the business park, the introduction of park and ride provision, and facilities for road freight traffic.”

Government will work closely with Flintshire Council to develop those proposals further.

A further £1m has been allocated to the local authority to improve access to Deeside through bus services and encourage
walking and cycling.

Part of this money will be spent on developing bus interchanges, bus priority measures on the B5129 Shotton Corridor and bus infrastructure on Deeside Business Park.

The remainder of the grant will support the introduction of active travel routes within the Deeside Business Park.

Mr Skates added that “the cycling and walking provisions in the Deeside Industrial Park will be used as the exemplar to guide the development of other key employment hubs in the region.”

Further investment of £4.7m has been committed to facilitating commercial development on top of the £5.5m already put into the Northern Gateway scheme to continue with building additional road infrastructure to open land for development and attract further businesses to locate at the site.

Mr Skates said the initiatives he described will “go a long way to address the barriers to accessing jobs in the Deeside Hub.”

“They will also form one of the building blocks that will deliver a North East Wales Metro vision of a well-connected and high quality integrated transport system,” he said.

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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