Campaigners are hopeful that more funding from the Department for Transport could help them get a bridge for cars over Hawthorn Road in the Lincoln Eastern Bypass project.
Transport Minister John Hayes met this week with Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh and representatives of the campaign to save Hawthorn Road from closure to cars.
As previously reported, the Eastern Bypass scheme includes a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over Hawthorn Road in Greetwell — but not for cars — which would add several miles to the journey of commuters in and out of the city.
Sir Edward Leigh MP said: “This meeting has been very positive and productive. I welcome the minister’s offer to help support the common sense of retaining the vehicular access on Hawthorn Road.
“I hope to work with Lincoln’s Member of Parliament, Karl McCartney, to persuade Lincolnshire County Council to think again and make this minor change and am fully prepared to bid for money from the LEP.”
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney previously said that a proposal for dualling the yet to be constructed single carriageway could see funding if Lincolnshire County Council and the Greater Lincolnshire LEP jointly bid for the extra improvements.
The Department for Transport approved in 2011 a £50 million bid to go towards the expected cost of £98 million for the bypass. The initial plans from the County Council proposed a £112 million dual carriageway, but this shifted to a single carriageway due to spending cuts.
Karl McCartney said: “For over a decade I have been battling for the Eastern Bypass . I am pleased that, a short time ago, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Transport confirmed that Government funding was ring-fenced for this Bypass. I still maintain that the Bypass should be dualled.”
The group protesting the closure of Hawthorn Road say they do not oppose the bypass, but that it’s essential the road is kept as a carriageway for motorists.
Following the meeting with the Transport Minister, District Councillor Giles McNeill, who represents the parish of Greetwell where the proposed closure is designated to happen, said: “I am confident that Lincolnshire County Council will want to be absolutely certain that the cost of retaining the use of the road for motor vehicles is not prohibitive, but would expect that a revision is now very much something the county council will want to pursue.”
The Transport Minister agreed to write to the County Council to provide additional details regarding the funding arrangements.
Richard Davies, executive councillor for Highways and Transport at Lincolnshire Council Council, said: “We welcome the extension of the funding guarantee. However, we have learned from past experience that this will not necessarily bind a future government, so there is still uncertainty about the funding.
“Therefore, it’s very important that we proceed with current plans so we can be confident the scheme will be delivered in good time and the £50 million secured. The County Council remains fully committed to this much-needed scheme, which will bring benefits for residents and businesses across Lincolnshire.
“We would consider alternatives if further funding was made available to us, but we have to be realistic about the chances of that happening. We are now seeking clarification from the Secretary of State for Transport,” Councillor Davies added.