Council pledges Â£4.2m to move Northampton's controversial relief road a big step closer
A planned bypass to the north of Northampton is nearer to reality... but residents have warned it is not the silver bullet to solve looming congestion problems.
Northampton Borough Council's cabinet has decided to top up the funding pot for the North West Relief Road with £4.2 million - meaning the cost of a single carriageway route is now all but covered by various organisations .
The scheme, including a bridge over the railway line, would link Harlestone Road near Lodge Farm Industrial Estate with Welford Road near the The Windhover pub.
Although residents' associations have welcomed the prospect of alleviating future congestion in the Dallington area, they maintain that a much larger scheme is needed to make a dent in leaping traffic levels elsewhere.
Whitehills and Spring Park Residents' Association (WASPRA) said an orbital route from junction 16 of the M1 across to the A43 at Moulton is the only option that would prevent gridlock in the north of the town. And crucially, they say, it should be built first.
Chairman Patrick Cross said: "Without the bigger orbital route, the relief road would end up as another rat run through a housing estate.
"Traffic going from east to west or north to south shouldn't have to go through the town. It should go around it - and in minutes, not hours
"What will happen is the relief road will be built first and we will have 10 years of traffic problems before we get the road that is needed. We back the relief road, but make sure it's opened the day after the orbital route."
He added: "It's not a cost, but an investment that this town has been owed for 30-plus years."
An orbital route as suggested by WASPRA is likely to cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Such a scheme has been discussed by local authorities before but would be a complex undertaking - not least because money would have to come from so many different sources.
The much simpler relief road needs the borough council cash, plus £8 million from SEMLEP, £2.5 million from the builders behind Buckton Fields and, should the plans be approved, £10 million from the developers of the Dallington Grange estate.
Even then, the funds would have fallen well short if material taken from the Dallington Grange site was not being recycled in the building of the new road.