Thursday, 10 March 2011

Cornwall Council getting it right on A30 dualling

As I've noted before, I don't always praise Cornwall Council, but their proposal for the A30 between Temple and Higher Carblake is exactly the right approach.

This stretch of road is a notorious bottleneck in the summer which creates huge problems for all areas from Bodmin westwards and can be a turn off to businesses and tourists alike. Cornwall has been asking for the road (which is managed by the Highways Agency) to be dualled for many years. The scheme is currently listed by the Government as 'for consideration at some point after 2019' - in other words it has been kicked into the long grass.

But the Council has taken the lead and re-designed the scheme at a total cost of around £60 million. That's still a lot of money, but a heck of a lot less than the £130 million which was the estimated maximum cost when the Highways Agency considered it.

And so the Cabinet is being asked to agree a new approach to the Government based on these new figures. It is highly likely that we won't get much (or any) central funding for it, but moving the scheme forward at least makes progress a possibility and the Minister may agree to allow it to go forward with the challenge being to find the money.

So how could the money be found? The easiest - although most expensive - option would be for the Council simply to borrow it. Other options that seem worth pursuing include bidding for money from the next round of convergence or offering to take over the management and upkeep costs of the Cornish trunk roads (the A30 and A38) and thus receiving a 'dowry' for maintenance. Other options which I would like to see ruled out immediately would include a tolls system or a tourist tax.

But even though these scheme is little further forward, it is good that the Council is taking the lead in a scheme which will genuinely benefit the vast majority of Cornwall.

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