A27 road tunnel, public transport and more cycling and walking in blueprint for future south coast transport

The longest road tunnel in the UK costing around £2bn should be considered as a long-term solution to the increasing problems of congestion on the A27 in Worthing, a new report says.

A powerful transport group for the region says the option could be ready for construction in 2045 to 2050, but in the meantime has proposed a range of sustainable new transport networks including greatly improved train and bus services along with cycling and walking paths.

Transport for the South East (TfSE) says only by investing in these schemes can carbon emissions from congested road traffic be seriously tackled.

In a report to go to Worthing Borough Council’s Joint Strategic Sub-Committee (Tuesday, 6th September 2022) councillors are asked to recognise the importance of long term planning with complex transport issues. It recommends the Council welcomes the identification of Worthing “as a strategically significant contributor to the business case for rail and mass transit interventions.”

It also advises councillors that while a new stretch of road including a tunnel to replace the current A27 is a long term solution, it should be welcomed because “the impact of congestion in Worthing remains a major problem that has an adverse impact on local quality of life and is of regional significance.” It adds that shorter term improvements are not ruled out.

The TfSE Draft Strategic Investment Plan, including plans for the whole South East that would cost £48bn to 2050, includes these that affect Worthing:

  • Vast improvements in rail service including faster journeys between Brighton and Southampton; more long distance journeys linking Brighton – Portsmouth – Southampton; and additional capacity between Worthing and Brighton. The net result would be 10,000 additional rail trips per day
  • New bus services focusing on Brighton and Hove, to extend along the coast into West Sussex with the potential for a reduction of 65,000 car trips each weekday
  • The promotion of a Sussex Coast Active Travel scheme including significant upgrades for walking and cycling pathways

Controversially, the rail services plan also envisages the closure of the West Worthing level crossing although the report says this would have to be carefully planned to allow proper access routes.

TfSE says doing nothing in the congested South is not an option and as well as significantly cutting carbon emissions could lead to the creation of an additional 20,000 jobs, £41bn per year growth of the South’s economy, 1.6 million extra public transport and ferry trips each year and a reduction of four million car trips per day.

Leader of Worthing Borough Council Cllr Dr Beccy Cooper said: “We know something very bold has to be done to promote sustainable transport and reduce carbon emissions.

“We need to have a vision, a framework for how we are going to help people take less car journeys. Investing in sustainable travel networks, including public transport, walking and cycling is essential to help us all get out of our cars, particularly for short journeys.

“Proposals such as the tunnel and removing the level crossing will need much more thinking through and consultation with our local communities, and may of course come to nothing as considerable funding will be necessary, but we broadly welcome a direction of travel that wants to work with Worthing to make it healthier and more accessible.”

The power of the TfSE is that it is a sub-national transport body supported by the 16 constituent local transport authorities (unitary and county councils), 46 district and borough councils and a wide range of other stakeholders with an interest in transport strategy. In common with other sub-regional transport bodies, TfSE does not have statutory status, but is supported by the Department for Transport.

To read the full report see:

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