Time for a new transport strategy

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30 Sep 2012
Recently there has been an explosion of coverage regarding the perilous state of our transport network, and rather unsurprisingly local politicians have resorted to a relay of tit-for-tat letters each accusing the other of failing the public.

The real truth; however is that both sides want exactly the same outcome, albeit over slightly different timeframes. Both wish to see the Northern Relief Road completed, both are committed to a Southern Relief Road and both have more or less given up on a solution to resolving the issues at A249/M2 junction at Stockbury.

Our MP Gordon Henderson quite rightly points out that Stockbury roundabout is the big priority, but is also convinced that a Southern Relief Road is a necessity.

Labour spokesman, Ghlin Whelan asserts that failing to complete the Northern Relief Road is irresponsible and once completed would aid the case for the Southern Relief Road.

The Conservatives say that completing the Northern Relief Road would be irresponsible and so it goes on.

So what exactly has Swale Council committed itself for in terms of Stockbury roundabout, well absolutely nothing in the next 20 years, because to do so would certainly undermine the ever crumbling case for the Southern Relief Road, which it believes is the solution to everything.

The results of the transport modeling appear to have been largely forgotten, misrepresented or twisted to suit whichever argument is being put forward at the time.

Both the transport model and Kent Highways acknowledge the huge increase in traffic at Bapchild should the Northern Relief Road be completed, but there is absolutely no clear evidence that a Southern Relief Road would remove much of this traffic. The model also is uncertain as to the extent of the possible benefits to Stockbury roundabout as a result of a Southern Relief Road.

Is it really any wonder that the Highways Agency is so concerned that recent applications along the A249 corridor have ground to a halt? It doesn’t bode well for the massive expansion plans for the next 20 years. Perhaps it’s time for a new transport strategy?