Regional transport body Midlands Connect has released a major report outlining a series of improvements to A50/A500 corridor. The upgrades are targeted at reducing congestion, supporting local businesses and promoting greener transport use – including the take up of electric vehicles.
The plans from Midlands Connect could create a £12 billion economic boost and help to unlock over 12,000 jobs. New research released alongside the report shows that drivers are losing over half an hour (37 minutes) every weekday due to congestion on this vital route.
The report, called Levelling-up Stoke, Staffordshire, Derby & Derbyshire: The road to success outlines a series of strategic recommendations for long-awaited upgrades, badly needed to alleviate bottlenecks along the 90km long A50/A500 corridor, which links Derby, Nottingham and Leicester to Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and the North-West.
Large manufacturers such as JCB, Rolls-Royce, Toyota and Alstom rely on this key East-West route to keep supply chains moving and provide links to international markets – currently, traffic congestion on the A50/A500 threatens to stand in the way of business growth. The route sees between 60,000 to 90,000 vehicles passing along it every single day.
With deadlines to secure funding via the Department for Transport’s Road Investment Strategy (RIS) schemes fast approaching, Midlands Connect is working closely with local authorities and other partners to help turn its plans into reality. By putting together a phased, corridor wide approach, it is hoped that improvements can be brought forward and provide good value for money, something that has previously been a barrier to progress.
Suggested improvements on the corridor include:
On the corridor’s Western Section, running from Blythe Bridge, Staffordshire to M6 J15-16 (through Stoke-on-Trent):
- Strategic improvements to M6 J15 to resolve congestion, to improve safety and facilitate better flow of traffic on M6 and A500
- Enhancements at Sideway to make traffic flow more smoothly, including strategic changes to the roundabout and lanes at the junction, as well as addressing the signalled junctions that cause traffic to build up on the route
- Technology-led improvements to improve the reliability and safety of the M6 between Junction 15 and 16
On the corridor’s Central Section that runs from the A50/A38 Toyota junction to Blythe Bridge, Staffordshire
- Grade separation of the A50 and local roads at two locations in Uttoxeter, with associated slip roads to provide access and other potential enhancements to support growth and boost local active travel networks
- Enhancements to existing roundabouts at Sudbury and Blythe Bridge to increase capacity and reduce delays
On the corridor’s Eastern Section from the M1 to A50/A38 Toyota junction
- Improvements to A38/A50 Toyota junction to improve capacity, safety and general operation (recommended as immediate priority to be delivered through an appropriate source of funding).
- Widening of the A50 south of Derby, between Junction 2 for the A6 at Chellaston and Junction 3 for the A514 near Aston-on-Trent (recommended to be undertaken in RIS4).
- Building a new link road between the A50 (near junction 1) and A42 (near junction 14, Breedon-on-the-Hill). This is recommended as a long-term option to be considered for RIS5 or beyond.
Commenting on the release, Sir John Peace, Chair of Midlands Connect said: “This report released outlines why upgrades to the A50/A500 manufacturing corridor are crucial both to keep international markets open after Brexit and to reduce emissions by enabling more direct and efficient journeys.
“This suggested strategic enhancement plan from Midlands Connect is based on comprehensive research which proves just how economically important this 90km East-West stretch of road between Crewe and Derby is. Improvements will also make it easier for business and local communities to prepare for a future where electric vehicles and alternative fuels become the norm.
“A key location for manufacturing and industrial activity due to its fantastic links with major UK cities and local supply chains, the corridor is home to industry leading businesses including JCB, Toyota, Rolls Royce and Alstom, and will soon link the new HS2 hubs at Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent with the planned freeport close to East Midlands Airport. However, the busy A50/ A500 has slowly become more congested over time and regular bottlenecks form at junctions during peak times. Widespread development is planned for the surrounding area, meaning that change is needed now, with this sustainability-led plan to keep locals, employees and businesses moving.”
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said: “The upgrade of the A50/A500 corridor is vital to the future growth of Staffordshire and our neighbours. As a county council we have set out our economic development priorities which includes improving our strategic transport routes. One of our key strengths is our location being at the heart of the country – with east/west connectivity becoming ever more important. Reducing congestion and ensuring there is good traffic flow means we can increase investment in our area, support our existing businesses to expand and new ones to be set up, whilst create more opportunities for our communities.
“These transport improvements form part of a wider proposal to enhance the productivity of a corridor which is home to many of the country’s leading manufacturers that has huge potential to boost the local and national economy.
“We look forward to working closely with Midlands Connect and other council partners to deliver the plans set out in the report, building on our previous successful redevelopment of the A50 Uttoxeter junction close to JCB, with National Highways.”