National Highways is to fund £280,000 worth of community projects in a Staffordshire town which will protect schoolchildren and pedestrians, support businesses and ease parking problems.
New school crossings are planned and there will be extra parking at a busy community square in Stafford after money was saved on the nearby upgrade of the M6 between junctions 13 (Stafford) and 15 (Stoke-on-Trent).
National Highways decided to not invest funds on rebuilding the little-used Burton Bank footbridge over the M6 following consultation with residents. The bridge was removed because it was too narrow and too low for four running lanes.
Around 1,500 local households were contacted by National Highways and a public meeting held to discuss options following the demolition of the bridge. The large majority of residents who responded favoured not rebuilding it, preferring instead that money be spent on local improvements.
Nick Wells, who oversaw the upgrade of the M6 for National Highways, said:m“We had to be sure that replacing the bridge represented the best value for the public purse, bearing in mind the low numbers of people that used it and the alternative footpaths available.
“After consulting residents we realised that we would be better contributing instead to some of the projects which had been suggested and would benefit the local community as a whole.
“We appreciate that carrying out such a major motorway upgrade causes disruption for communities but by carrying out these projects we can give something back and leave a lasting legacy for some of the people affected by our work.”
Following the public consultation, National Highways asked the Department for Transport for permission to not replace Burton Bank Bridge which was granted – freeing up funds to contribute to community projects.
Discussions took place with Staffordshire County Council to consider which of the residents’ suggestions to take forward and these will now be delivered by the council.
The proposals which look set to be funded include improving the lighting in the Burton Manor Road underpass as well as providing a crossing for school children in John Amery Drive, near Burton Manor primary school, and another in Burton Manor Road near Stafford Grammar School.
Parking problems at the nearby Burton Square area were also highlighted during the consultation as the local library, shops and churches are all in use at busy periods. Additional parking bays will now be created in Merrey Road.
David Williams, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Staffordshire County Council, said: “It’s great news that the residents’ suggestions for road safety improvements in the area are set to go ahead.
“This part of the town is a real community hub and hive of activity with a wide variety of shops and the local library. The new crossings planned near to the schools are not only great news for pupils and their families but for everyone. The extra parking will also make a big difference for residents and businesses alike and the improvements to the underpass will make it safer for people to cross the busy road.”
In addition to the £280,000, National Highways also agreed to fund two new signs on the motorway at the county boundary, northbound and southbound carriageways, saying ‘Welcome to Staffordshire’.
National Highways has upgraded the 17-mile stretch between junctions 13 (Stafford) and 15 (Stoke-on-Trent) by opening a fourth lane in both directions to create extra capacity and tackle stop-start traffic delays.
Burton Bank Bridge, which is between junctions 13 and 14, was demolished in March 2019. Since the demolition of the bridge, which was accessed by steps, pedestrians have been using an alternative route, an underpass, which adds less than three minutes to get to the same fields.