County Hall wants your opinion on one of the biggest (and, possibly, most beneficial) projects to affect Northampton in the next 20 years - two huge relief roads. This is what you need to know.
If there’s one thing still able to unite Northampton despite the divisive Brexit referendum and the close-fought General Election, it’s a town-wide traffic jam.
Congestion, in all its forms, is the single biggest cause of daily misery in the town.
And while the former come round about once every four years or once in blue moon, gridlock in our growing town, unfortunately, seems to happen about twice a day, causing large-scale frustration for almost everyone in Northampton who owns a car - not to mention anyone living off one of the main routes.
But there is hope, plans have been drawn up that, in theory, would wipe that problem from our lives.
As the massive new housing estates around the outskirts of Northampton are approved, planners have made two new routes to the north a renewed priority.
The North West Relief Road and the Northern Orbital promise to be the answer to some of the problems. Not only that, Northamptonshire Highways want us to tell them how to build it and what to protect.
The Northampton North-West Relief Road will link the A428 Harlestone Road with the A5199 Welford Road and serve the housing growth that is proposed to the west
and north of Northampton.
It will also help address existing congestion, particularly in Kingsthorpe, by providing another crossing of the river valley.
Description of the scheme:
The Northampton North-West Relief Road will link the A428 Harlestone Road with the A5199 Welford Road.
The section from the A428 to just south of the railway line will be constructed by the developers of Dallington Grange, and indeed the first part of this section has already been constructed as part of the Harlestone Manor development.
Northamptonshire Highways will be building the section of road across the railway line to reach the A5199.
The scheme was initially developed in the early 1990s.
A preferred route was agreed but was subsequently dropped.
That’s the reason for this consultation.
Benefits of the scheme:
Northamptonshire Highways says the Northampton North-West Relief Road will reduce congestion in the north-west of Northampton, particularly relieving congestion in and around Kingsthorpe shopping centre, by providing a new crossing of the river valley.
The new road may also improve access to the M1 and from the industry at Moulton Park, Round Spinney and Lodge Farm Industrial Estates.
What is County Hall consulting on?
They are proposing a slightly different route to that which was preferred in the 1990s because of new development that has happened.
This ensures that the road can continue further north as the Northampton Northern Orbital Route to complete the northern ring road to Northampton.
Both routes come with a caveat. The Relief Road will alleviate the problems slightly. The Orbital will multiply those positive effects.
But both will only impact on the levels of traffic and people we have today and over the next few decades.
All of this will undoubtedly have to be revisited again in years to come.
But for now, this is our best chance to influence one of the few issues that affect us all every day, and can significantly contribute to the overall happiness of the town.
Ring roads and traffic islands may not sound exciting but they have immense power to ruin or uplift communities.
Whether or not you voted in the EU referendum, the council election, or on June 8, having your say in this consultation may be the most important democratic act you will carry out for 20 years.