Nine Lincolnshire roads could be included in a new central government major road network designed to reduce congestion, boost economic growth and raise standards.
The network could see key roads in the county such as the A15, A52 and A158 be eligible for funding to build bypasses, dual carriageways, create new junctions and make vital road repairs.
England’s existing road network is managed by the Strategic Road Network (SRN) and Local Road Network (LRN).
The Highways England-managed SRN is responsible for major routes across the country, including the A46 from Newark to Lincoln, the A1 in Lincolnshire and the A52 heading west from Grantham to Nottingham.
By contrast, the LRN consists of the remaining 184,100 miles of road in the country, which makes up 98% of the entire road network. Responsibility is split between 153 local authorities and this is where the changes are proposed.
Under government plans, the LRN will be replaced by the new Major Road Network (MRN) and the following Lincolnshire roads are proposed by the council to be included in the network, which is set to be as extensive as the area covered by Highways England:
- A158 Lincoln to Skegness – due to the importance of the ‘Coastal Highway’ route to the tourism economy on the Lincolnshire coast and the high traffic flows during holiday periods
- A52 Boston to Grantham – due to the importance of the route to the key agri-food industries in south Lincolnshire as identified by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership
- A15 Sleaford to Peterborough – due to the road being used as a diversion when the A1 is closed because of a crash or roadworks
In addition, roads which were downgraded from Highways England management between 2001 and 2009 are set to be included in the MRN by the Department for Transport.
In Lincolnshire, these are:
- A15 from Lincoln to Scunthorpe
- A16 which runs from Grimsby to Peterborough, passing by Louth and Spalding, and through Boston
- A17 from Newark to Norfolk border
- A57 from Lincoln to Nottinghamshire border
- A46 Lincoln Bypass between A57 and A158
The council is also proposing including the rest of the A15 (from Lincoln to Sleaford), the A52 from Boston to Skegness, the A607 from Grantham to the Leicestershire border, and the A151 from Spalding to Holbeach in the list.
In total, the sections of nine roads proposed to be included in the network are:
A consultation on the government’s website will run until March 19, with a MRN programme set to be launched in the summer.
Funding would come from the government’s National Roads Fund and would tend to be for schemes valued between £20 million and £50 million.
In exceptional cases where a strong case is put forward by councils, a contribution of £100 million could be considered.
Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Scrutiny Committee met in Lincoln on Monday, March 12 to consider the authority’s response to the consultation.
Vice-chairman of the committee, Councillor Chris Brewis, independent member for The Suttons, said: “It’s almost an admission from government that they shouldn’t have detrunked the roads.
“We have regional support so it looks like we could get a few bits done. I fully endorse the proposals.”
Labour Councillor Robin Renshaw, member for St Giles, was keen to make a case for Lincoln getting some improvements to its roads, pointing to the bypass in particular.
He said: “The single carriageway stretches around Lincoln are the biggest cause of congestion in the city.”
His words were echoed by Conservative Councillor Eddie Strengiel, who represents Birchwood in the city.
He said: “I welcome the report and proposals. The A158 certainly needs looking at.
“However, from the A158 to the Bentley Hotel in South Hykeham what we have is single then dual then single then dual then single carriageways.
“That causes major congestion problems not just for Lincoln people but for people travelling from the north and the south.
“It only needs to take one accident and the area is gridlocked. I would like to see priority for dualling this.”
Councillor Martin Griggs, Conservative member for Skirbeck in Boston, suggested the A1121 Boardsides could be prioritised over the A52.
He said: “I commuted to Nottingham by bike. Most people tend to travel via Sleaford and Newark, not by the A52.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in the consulation documents: “We propose to create a specific new funding stream which will be dedicated to investing in this network and raising the performance standards which motorists experience on it.
“The government cannot deliver this programme in isolation; involving local and regional interests will ensure that the improvements are of most value to the economy.”