Regional transport body Midlands Connect has released a major report outlining a series of improvements to the A50/A500 corridor which, it is claimed, could create over 12,000 jobs and generate £12bn for the economy.
The upgrades are targeted at reducing congestion, supporting local businesses and promoting greener transport use – including the take up of electric vehicles. New research released alongside the report also shows that drivers are losing over half an hour (37 minutes) every weekday due to congestion on this vital route.
The report, Levelling-up Stoke, Staffordshire, Derby & Derbyshire: The road to success, outlines a series of strategic recommendations for long-awaited upgrades, badly needed to alleviate bottlenecks along the 90km long A50/A500 corridor, which links Derby, Nottingham and Leicester to Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and the north-west.
Large manufacturers such as JCB, Rolls-Royce, Toyota and Alstom rely on this key east-west route to keep supply chains moving and provide links to international markets – currently, traffic congestion on the A50/A500 threatens to stand in the way of business growth. The route sees between 60,000 to 90,000 vehicles passing along it every single day.
With deadlines to secure funding via the Department for Transport’s Road Investment Strategy (RIS) schemes fast approaching, Midlands Connect is working closely with local authorities and other partners to help turn its plans into reality. By putting together a phased, corridor wide approach, it is hoped that improvements can be brought forward and provide good value for money, something that has previously been a barrier to progress.
Suggested improvements on the corridor include:
On the corridor’s Western Section, running from Blythe Bridge, Staffordshire to M6 J15-16 (through Stoke-on-Trent):
- Strategic improvements to M6 J15 to resolve congestion, to improve safety and facilitate better flow of traffic on M6 and A500;
- Enhancements at Sideway to make traffic flow more smoothly, including strategic changes to the roundabout and lanes at the junction, as well as addressing the signalled junctions that cause traffic to build up on the route;
- Technology-led improvements to improve the reliability and safety of the M6 between Junction 15 and 16.
On the corridor’s Central Section that runs from the A50/A38 Toyota junction to Blythe Bridge, Staffordshire:
- Grade separation of the A50 and local roads at two locations in Uttoxeter, with associated slip roads to provide access and other potential enhancements to support growth and boost local active travel networks;
- Enhancements to existing roundabouts at Sudbury and Blythe Bridge to increase capacity and reduce delays.
On the corridor’s Eastern Section from the M1 to A50/A38 Toyota junction:
- Improvements to A38/A50 Toyota junction to improve capacity, safety and general operation (recommended as immediate priority to be delivered through an appropriate source of funding);
- Widening of the A50 south of Derby, between Junction 2 for the A6 at Chellaston and Junction 3 for the A514 near Aston-on-Trent (recommended to be undertaken in RIS4);
- Building a new link road between the A50 (near junction 1) and A42 (near junction 14, Breedon-on-the-Hill). This is recommended as a long-term option to be considered for RIS5 or beyond.
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect, said: “This report released today outlines why upgrades to the A50/A500 manufacturing corridor are crucial both to keep international markets open after Brexit and to reduce emissions by enabling more direct and efficient journeys. This suggested strategic enhancement plan from Midlands Connect is based on comprehensive research which proves just how economically important this 90km east-west stretch of road between Crewe and Derby is. Improvements will also make it easier for business and local communities to prepare for a future where electric vehicles and alternative fuels become the norm.”
Mark Turner, chief operating officer at JCB, said: “Like many other big employers based along the A50 corridor, we at JCB want to see continued investment and growth, helping to make the A50 more resilient, accessible and reliable 365 days a year. We support Midlands Connect’s proposals for improvement, which would work to harness the potential of the North Midlands manufacturing corridor.”