Transport Minister confirms A27 upgrade on agenda
Essential upgrades to the A27 were brought a step closer when the Transport Minister visited Storrington last Wednesday (18 September) to see problems of traffic in the village and discuss the need to tackle congestion on the coastal highway.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Stephen Hammond MP, was accompanied by Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert and Chairman of Horsham District Council, Councillor Philip Circus.
Mr Hammond walked through the centre of Storrington and was shown the problems of heavy traffic experienced by local residents. He visited several shops to hear about the poor air quality in the village and the damaging effect of congestion on local businesses.
Mr Herbert explained to the Minister that the key cause of heavy traffic in the village was rat-running throughout the South Downs by drivers trying to avoid congestion on the A27. Upgrading the coastal route at Arundel and Worthing was critical not just to relieve congestion there but also to protect the Downland villages.
The Minister was clearly aware of these issues, having visited Worthing in February this year to discuss the problems with local businesses. In June the Government announced a feasibility study into A27 upgrades at Worthing and Arundel, as well as funding to improve the Chichester by-pass.
The Minister pointed out that the A27 was one of only six key 'pinch points' identified by the Government across the country for feasibility studies, evidence that the Government understood the problems associated with the coastal route.
Mr Hammond said: "Storrington has problems with air quality and traffic, and what I am here to do is to understand how the A27, and what we have announced about the A27, will help.
"One of the reasons why the Government has not only committed huge amounts of money up to 2016, in terms of the Highways Agency schemes and ‘pinch point' schemes, why we have persuaded the Chancellor to fund improvements all the way up to 2021, was exactly because we do need to upgrade the infrastructure in this country. There are some critical pinch points and the Government has identified six of those, one of which is the A27."
Mr Herbert said: "I am pleased that the Government has announced that they will undertake a formal study into the upgrades of the A27 at Arundel and Worthing, and that is real progress.
"The incoming Labour government in 1997 cancelled the Arundel by-pass out of hand. We need to get it back on the agenda. To have the Transport Minister visiting, and this commitment of a formal study into how they might do it, is a step forward. I am very pleased that this interest has been shown in West Sussex."
Mr Herbert has been calling for an Arundel by-pass since he was elected in 2005. He has urged West Sussex County Council, other local authorities, businesses and the Local Enterprise Partnership to work together to make a concerted case for upgrading the A27.
He said that he would be raising the issue again at a meeting of West Sussex MPs with the County Council on Friday 11 October.
1. Nick Herbert's news release following the Government's announcement of a feasibility study into A27 improvements (June 2013) can be read here.
2. HM Treasury's announcement of infrastructure investment, including the A27 feasibility study, can be read here.
3. Nick Herbert's news release calling for action on A27 (March 2013) can be read here.