Ely bypass work set to begin in earnest

THE first stages of work on Ely’s long-awaited �28million southern bypass are set to begin in the coming weeks after the county council agreed to back the proposal.

The bypass, designed to ease congestion problems at Ely’s rail crossing, could take up to 1,200 heavy goods vehicles per day off the busy A142 and has been labelled crucial to the future of growth in the district since initial work was carried out in 2004.

According to the county council however, building the road could lead to “significant” habitat loss as well as crossing grade 1 agricultural land.

On Tuesday, councillors at Cambridgeshire County Council gave the go-ahead of officers to begin working on a design for the road, set to be a 500m long and 10m high viaduct crossing the River Great Ouse and passing through land currently occupied by supermarket giant Tesco.

If all goes according to plan, the road could be open as soon as September 2015.

Councillor Peter Moakes, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “A lot of words have been written about the need to resolve the traffic bottleneck around the south of Ely. Today, I feel more confident than ever that we are close to achieving a solution – this is not to diminish the task still ahead of us – but we have made great strides in recent months to finally develop an answer to the challenge of regenerating Ely, tackling congestion and making the railway once again key to our economic development.”

Councillor Ian Bates, cabinet member for Growth and Planning at Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “The benefits of finding a solution to this conflict between the road and rail traffic is obvious. For if we have an alternative to using the level crossing the railway can develop into a freight and passenger line of national significance while Ely to develop economically, free of the shackles of congestion.”

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According to the county council, Ely’s level crossing is currently closed for up to 35 minutes in every hour, with that figure set to increase “significantly” by 2020, causing gridlock as HCV’s queue to use the crossing.

Bids for funding were made to the Government by the district council in 2004, 2006 and 2008 but all proved unsuccessful.

The council said funding for the new scheme would be sought in the shape of grants from Government, Network Rail, Developers and the EU as well as “prudential borrowing.”