November 27, 2020 4.55 pm This story is over 10 months old

John Marriott: A single carriageway bypass is better than none

A full ring road lies ahead

As someone who spent most of his rather modest political career supporting and actively campaigning for a bypass for North Hykeham, the news that over £100 million of the £155 million cost for the road will come from the government is welcome news.

Mind you, we have been here before. Back in the 1990s I was part of the North Hykeham Town Council’s campaign, which culminated in a 4,000 plus signature petition being presented to the County Council, with copies delivered to opposition party spokespersons in Westminster.

Unfortunately, our local Tory MP at the time refused his support, so we never got to meet the Transport Minister of the time.

How times have changed. Over twenty years ago we were still relying on plans for a so called ‘Eastern Bypass’ that first saw the light of day in 1951.

I still remember the packed public meeting NHTC called in 1995 that voted for a road from Pennell’s roundabout, bisecting North and South Hykeham, heading up Waddington Cliff by the old Barbot’s gym, heading south of Canwick and Bracebridge Heath and over the Witham before joining the A158 Wragby Road at what we now call Bunkers Hill.

I am assuming that, given the cost, this road is likely to be single carriage way, which clearly won’t go down well in some quarters.

Quite frankly, with money tight and expected to go a long way to help to pay for other equally desperately needed road improvement schemes around the country, I personally could live with that.

Any road is better than no road at all, but given my now rather advanced age, will I live long enough to see it completed?

Of course, for those motorists who value speed above all else and can’t possibly wait a minute longer to get from A to B, a dual carriageway is clearly preferable.

As for the comment that it’s all about the Newark Road crossroads traffic lights, believe me, that junction has been over capacity for years.

No wonder the estate where I live gets something like a couple of hundred traffic movements through it at peak periods every workday to avoid it!

No amount of tweaking will make matters better and, as for replacing the traffic lights with a roundabout, not only would you have to demolish most of the buildings nearby, just look at that roundabout few hundred yards down the road to see how that alone copes with traffic.

As for all the houses in Waddington, that argument could have been advanced when the dedicated line of the original route up the cliff had had to be abandoned over twenty years ago and the new route put forward that ran around South Hykeham and via a flyover at Station Road, Waddington, on towards Bracebridge Heath.

That’s why the County Council bought up several houses in the area at the time, including a recently self built home of a former teaching colleague of mine, that would suffer from planning blight.

I see that the flyover idea appears to have been abandoned and that Station Road, Waddington, looks, according to the plans, eventually to be turned into two cul de sacs, allowing the new road to proceed at ground level.

In some ways that’s a shame, given the prospect of driving from Bracebridge Heath with the impressive vista of the Trent Valley appearing in front of your eyes as you descended on the flyover.

Mind you, if, and it’s still a big ‘if’, the new road is ever built, the view will still be mighty impressive.

The reason for Transport England’s original insistence that the Eastern relief road would be single carriageway some fifteen years ago was because it was not considered a strategic road.

Even if the North Hykeham Relief Road ever does join up with the Eastern Relief Road, that combined road will still not, in my opinion, be classed as ‘strategic’.

Now, when it comes to the A46 Western Bypass, that’s a different matter.

This road is of clear strategic importance in taking away traffic from Lincoln, which moves between the A1 East Midlands corridor, the East Coast Mainline and the east coast ports.

If extra money is to be found for dualling, as I have said many times before, it should be spent on those stretches of the Western Bypass that are still single carriageway.

Whatever happens will not greatly relieve traffic that flows in and out of Lincoln via Newark, Doddington and Skellingthorpe Roads.

As far as the last two are concerned, the chief culprits are those level crossings. Now a really imaginative solution might be to put the railway line BELOW these roads.

I reckon there is sufficient distance between the crossing at Hykeham Station and Doddington Road for a gradual gradient.

However, there would be a cost in addition to finance, that would inevitably require train services between Newark and Lincoln to be terminated at North Hykeham while work took place.

The problem here lies clearly with Network Rail, whose ability to deliver on projects, even when it is prepared to spend money, is questionable. Just look at those two pedestrian rail bridges in Lincoln.

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John was a councillor for thirty years, finally retiring in 2017. A schoolteacher by profession, he served on the North Hykeham Town Council (1987-2011), the North Kesteven District Council (1987-1999, 2001-2007) and the Lincolnshire County Council (2001-2017). He was also a County Council member of the former Lincolnshire Police Authority for eight years until standing down in 2009. In 1997 he was the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham. He is currently not a member of any political party.