Ely: Bypass Is Best Option?

A 6-month study in the Ely's nightmare traffic congestion suggests a new bypass over the flood-plains could be the most effective way of cutting the city's congestion.

Members of the Enterprise, Growth and Community Infrastructure Committee will hear next week how six months of investigation, assessment and study has rated options included bypasses, underpasses and stacking systems.

This work involved updating previous work and carrying out new areas of investigation from air monitoring, noise pollution and engineering feasibility studies.

The study considered the challenges of deliverability, cost and the impact on the views of the Cathedral as well as value for money and the primary objective of reducing congestion. Officers have outlined the positive and negative aspects of each option to allow Councillors and the public to make an informed decision.

The option which, on balance, meets the challenges of taking traffic out of Ely, is future proof and offers the best value for money is Route B - a new road to bypass the level crossing.

The proposed link road would be just over a mile long diverting the A142 at Angel Drove to just outside Stuntney via two roundabouts, a bridge over the railway line,  the River Great Ouse and its floodplains.

While the underpass option was seen to have the least impact on the heritage setting of Ely, it did not meet the objectives of reducing congestion, allowing the station area to be developed or providing value for money as constructing an underpass would have carry significant levels of risk.

Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet member for Growth and Planning at Cambridgeshire County Council told Heart: "Since the turn of the year, officers at the County Council have spent a huge amount of time and effort assessing the various options to once and for all resolve the problem of the Ely Crossing. They have worked very closely with a number of partners from East Cambridgeshire District Council to Network Rail and English Heritage as part of this process.

This assessment clearly demonstrates each of the options have their strengths and weaknesses - no option delivers full marks across the board. The assessment concludes there are two schemes which could work: Route B or the underpass."

Mr Bates added: "On closer inspection, it is clear we have to balance the various merits of the options. For example while both the underpass and Route B cost approximately £30m the underpass carries a far greater risk due to it's complexity while the bypass would impact on the landscape and views of the cathedral from the south west of the city.

However, the assessment is clear that Route B  a new road to bypass the railway crossing - represents the most effective solution to deal with the real and  ongoing problems in Ely and the surrounding area."

Cllr Bates concluded: "Members of the Scrutiny Committee will now discuss the assessment ahead of the issue coming to the Cabinet at the County Council later this summer. All of the documents relating to the assessment are available on the County Council's website for anyone to view. There is still a long way to go yet but I believe we are beginning to make real progress to end the misery caused by this traffic bottleneck."

Members of the Scrutiny Committee will debate the item at the Maltings on Thursday 12 July from 10.30am ahead of the report going to the Council's Cabinet.

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