16:16 Wednesday 04 December 2013

A50 improvements given the go-ahead

Written byRICHARD CASTLE

09/06/13 Children of courage awardsBurton Mail children of courage awards, Pirelli Stadium..Andrew Griffiths MP 09/06/13 Children of courage awardsBurton Mail children of courage awards, Pirelli Stadium..Andrew Griffiths MP

UTTOXETER News has secured exclusive details about a ‘vital’ £40 million investment that will ease historic congestion near the A50 in town.

MP Andrew Griffiths has revealed the work will involve converting roundabouts at McDonalds and Derby Road into ‘grade-separated’ facilities.

This means flyovers will be built over the roundabouts and across the A50, allowing dual carriageway traffic to plough on without having to stop.

The news will come as welcome relief for commuters and employers alike as congestion and journey times are cut down.

Mr Griffiths held personal talks with prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osbourne, as well as lobbying Parliament for 10 weeks, to push the plans through.

He said: “These changes are going to make a massive difference to road safety in Uttoxeter and give the whole area a massive boost in terms of the economy.

“I was convinced it was only a matter of time before a really serious accident or even a fatality occurred as a result of these two inadequate islands.

“Levels of traffic on the A50 are only going to increase and the islands wouldn’t have been able to keep up with that, particularly in the case of HGVs coming from JCB and traffic from Alton Towers, without significant investment.

“In the summer, especially, the whole stretch regularly comes to a complete standstill.”

Mr Griffiths said Mr Cameron and Mr Osbourne, as well as transport minister Patrick McLoughlan, were ‘extremely receptive’ to his idea.

He said: “I knew I’d have to really pull out the big guns to get something done and, thankfully, the ministers I consulted were all very much on board.

“George knows the islands quite well as he uses them to get home to his constituency in Tatton and has even used the McDonalds, which is about an hour from his house.

“The A50’s such an important strategic corridor for businesses like Toyota and Rolls Royce, not to mention JCB and Alton Towers, and they need quick, efficient roads to transport their completed products every day.

“If these firms grow, that will only increase traffic and I wanted to make sure the people of Uttoxeter don’t suffer from that.

“It’s also important to mention East Staffordshire Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council for their help in planning the logistics of the project, which we hope will start in 2014 and will take a year to complete.”

It is thought jobs will be created to deliver the development and JCB and Alton Towers, Uttoxeter’s two biggest employers, have added their support.

A JCB spokesman said: “Major improvements to the local road network will be most welcome for all businesses served by the A50.

“We welcome the announcement because the Staffordshire section of the A50 is in need of upgrading.

“Otherwise it would become an increasing barrier to future economic growth in the region.”

Mark Kerrigan, park operations and development director at Alton Towers Resort, said: “The A50 is a vital corridor for guests travelling to the Alton Towers Resort and, as we expand our full year offering, it is becoming even more so.

“We therefore welcome the Government’s decision to invest in upgrading this key infrastructure around Uttoxeter.”

The Advertiser had previously reported on Mr Griffiths’ campaign to help Uttoxeter’s traffic woes.

He also recently talked about making changes to business rates to help the town’s small firms.

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