Bypass initiative gathering momentum

A NEW initiative to find funding for Ely’s multi-million pound southern bypass is gathering momentum this week.

Transport officials, councillors and MPs have joined forces in a bid to find funding for the estimated �30 million scheme which, they say, is crucial to the future of the district.

Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC), Fred Brown, told the Ely Standard that talks between the three parties had been intensifying in recent weeks and that work on a new set of ideas was under way.

“The district council put forward a number of suggestions at the meetings and it was suggested to us that we progress our case by putting a package of proposals together, said councillor Brown.

“What we are doing now is talking to the county council and putting together a strategy which we can take forward and present to transport ministers.”

The announcement is a major step forward for the bypass project, which has been an increasing cause for concern in recent years as traffic on both road and rail continues to increase.

A recent analysis of the A142 crossing by transport consultants Atkins found the barrier was shut for up to 40 minutes during rush hour.

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Cllr Brown said one option being taken forward involved an upgrade to Ely Station that would encourage up to 25 per cent more freight traffic to fast-track through the city.

National rail operator Network Rail, is in the process of upgrading its Felixstowe to Nuneaton line, which passes through Ely, and Cllr Brown said if an extra line could be put in through the city, more freight traffic could use the line thereby taking lorries off the A142 and A10.

As a result, more rail freight would bring increased revenues for Network Rail which could be approached by the council and its partners to explore the possibility of closing the level crossing to traffic and funding the bypass.

“We feel that it is the most promising solution that we have come up with,” said cllr Brown. “There is no Government funding for this project so if we can come up with a solution ourselves we feel it will be favourably received.”

Graham Hughes, service director, growth and infrastructure at CCC, said:

“This is one potential source of money that is being looked at along with others to pay for a solution to the traffic congestion at the Ely Railway Station.

“We continue to work closely with East Cambridgeshire District Council to bring forward a much needed solution to this problem as soon as possible.”