Safety on the A34
As you may be aware by now, the Department for Transport has given the go-ahead for safety improvements to the stretch of the A34 in West Berkshire. Works are due to start in September 2019.
This has been a long hard fight and has only been successful thanks to joined-up campaigning by MPs, Councillors, Police, the LEPs and local businesses and residents. It has taken a while – and many meetings with Ministers and with Highways England – since the Safety Review made some very sensible and achievable recommendations and it is really good news that we are going to see these actioned in the near future.
Work is to be carried out on two laybys north of Chieveley (one will be closed and one extended) and on the northbound junction at East Ilsley, while signage is to be improved on Gore Hill.
I still believe that the long term solution for this road lies within the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway. This project is gathering momentum and a decision has now been announced on which ‘corridor’ will be considered for the new route between Milton Keynes and Oxford. There will be a public consultation on the preferred route within this ‘corridor’. You can keep up to date with progress on https://highwaysengland.co.uk/projects/oxford-to-cambridge-expressway/.
In my discussions with Highways England and Ministers, it is clear that the original idea that this Expressway should start at Junction 13 of the M4, close to Newbury, is the right one. If, for any reason, it was to go ahead without added improvements to the A34, this would only make the current problems with this road much worse. I have written to the Minister stressing the need for this and have had his assurance that the long-term future of the A34 will be taken into account. You can read my letter here. His positive response states, ‘I can assure you that the long-term requirements of the A34 will be taken into account as we develop RIS 2 and plans for the Expressway once a corridor has been chosen.’ His letter can be seen here.