The Department for Transport has rejected Lincolnshire County Council’s plans for the Eastern Bypass in Lincoln following a public inquiry.
The £96 million single carriageway scheme is now on hold after residents contested the planned closure of Hawthorn Road, which links villages such as Reepham, Cherry Willingham and Fiskerton to Lincoln.
Instead, the County Council planned a foot and cycle bridge to link the areas, but residents petitioned for a road bridge instead.
The Department for Transport however, said in its report that it believes the County Council provided safe alternative routes for motorists, which wouldn’t cause congestion, as residents feared, but only slightly longer journey times.
The outstanding concern from DfT is regarding the safety of cyclists using the replacement bridge proposed, due to the distance and visibility of the cycleway where it joins Hawthorn Road, which would need improvements.
Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “I’m completely gutted with the decision, I’m beyond words.”
He said: “The bypass has been our ambition for years and would have transformed Lincoln and the surrounding area.
“The inspector is concerned about the safety of people crossing the footbridge. She felt there was inadequate distance and visibility between the cyclepath that comes over the bridge to join onto Hawthorn Road, and the bypass slip road.
“At this stage we’re not sure what the immediate implications are, but we will look to redesign the bridge and satisfy the inspector’s concerns.
“Our determination to build the bypass has not changed and I hope we can get the project back on track as soon as possible.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State has accepted the independent inspector’s conclusions that Lincolnshire County Council’s plans for a bypass did not make adequate provision for pedestrians and cyclists wishing to access Hawthorn Road via a footbridge.
“The council is welcome to consider these conclusions and submit a fresh application,” he said.
The East West Link Road scheme in Lincoln was also looked at in a public inquiry earlier this year, but the Department for Transport gave it the go ahead.