MAJOR plans to improve the A46 are set to provide a multi-million pound boost to Warwickshire’s economy.
The Department of Transport (DofT), together with local councils, this week unveiled plans to improve the entire 155 mile stretch of the busy road from Gloucester to Lincolnshire over the next 20 years. It would include the stretch of around 30 miles from Coventry through to Alcester.
The improvements would aim to ease congestion hotspots such as Coventry and Stratford where rush hour speeds regularly drop below 20mph.
Work already underway along the road in Binley and Walsgrave would be sped up under the new proposals and could be completed sooner than the current 2022 deadline.
Changes would also include improvements to the carriageway between Warwick and Alcester, including around Stratford,
and junction upgrades to the Thickthorn roundabout near Kenilworth, and junction 2 of the M6,
Project bosses have not stated exactly how much the project could be worth to the Warwickshire economy, but have estimated
the improvements could pump an extra £17milllion annually into Coventry’s economy over the next 60 years.
They also forecast some 150,000 jobs could be created and say the road improvements would provide ‘much-needed infrastructure’ for new housing estates.
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce welcomed the plans and were confident they would bring a welcome boost to business in the area.
Chief executive Louise Bennett said: “The A46 is a key, strategic route right through Coventry and Warwickshire and beyond and is utilised daily by businesses right across our patch, for local and long distance journeys.
“The vast majority of the businesses are telling us loud and clear that improvements to the A46 will help them to grow and create jobs, but that current conditions on the road are holding them back.”
New company Midlands Connect has been created by the DofT and local authorities, to carry out the project, the estimated cost of which has not been reported.
Bosses say the improvements were vital as the A46 was one of the country’s most important routes and nearly all businesses working along wanted a more ‘reliable road’.
They added the changes would cut journey times, provide a viable alternative to using motorways, and would tie in with the arrival of controversial high-speed rail line HS2.
Distribution company Pantos Logistics, which is based in Ryton close to the A46, welcomed the planned improvements.
Transport team leader Robert Arnold said: “We typically run up to 90 HGVs in and out of our depot every day, and the A46 is absolutely vital to our operation.
“Around 70 per cent of our deliveries will use the road, but it can be stationary at peak times. Congestion can mean a high value load is turned away and returned to the depot, which impacts our hauliers, our own team, and sales.
“If the A46 was improved I can see us being able to move more deliveries more efficiently, with greater accuracy.”