Welsh Transport Minister Edwina Hart has outlined her future priorities for transport in North Wales – including earmarking over £200 million for major road improvements.
In a written statement entitled ‘Future Transport Investments in North Wales’, she said: “My focus in deciding on the transport priorities has been to deliver the objectives set out in the Wales Transport Strategy, to improve access and connectivity to support economic growth and link communities to key services and employment.
“North Wales is going through an exciting period with transformational projects either underway or in the pipeline. It is vitally important that our transport system in the region supports that development and seeks to encourage further investment to grow the regional economy. I am also acutely aware of the importance of cross boundary connectivity and the interventions I will set out will seek to maximise that potential.”
In addition to improving rail services, the Welsh government have submitted a bid under the first round of Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) funding for improvements to the A55.
Hart added: “Recognising the strategic importance of the trunk road network in the region, I will be progressing with developing schemes to address congestion, resilience issues and improve journey time. We are already well advanced with the A487 Caernarfon and Bontnewydd Bypass and aim to start construction late 2016. We are also making good progress with determining the preferred route to overcome the traffic problems on the A494/A55 at Queensferry. I am assessing two corridors and will hold a public exhibition later in the year before confirming the preferred route in 2016. In addition to earmarking over £200m on improving the road network in the Deeside area I am committing funding to develop a business case for a third crossing over the Menai Straits.”
In addition to the major road improvements, Hart confirmed that the government will continue to invest in schemes that will improve the operation of the trunk road network.
She continued: “In an attempt to reduce the impact of traffic problems on the A55 I have just completed investing nearly £5m to introduce emergency crossing points and hardened verges and refurbishing drainage systems prone to flooding. A further £42m investment in the A55 tunnels is scheduled to be completed this financial year and it is my intention to identify what other improvements that need to be delivered to improve the resilience of the network.”
Last month, Hart approved the Local Transport Plan for North Wales which was prepared collaboratively by six local authorities.
“To support the authorities with delivering their priorities, I have allocated a total of £6m transport grant this year to fund local road schemes, introduce new walking and cycling facilities and to improve road safety,” she adds.
Schemes supported include £1.867m for the Llangefni Link Road, £720,000 for works to improve access to key locations in Deeside and £206,000 to enable continued development of the proposed new road link to the Llanbedr Airfield in the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.
“I am committed to ensuring a modern integrated transport system for the whole of Wales and am confident these investments will introduce further improvements to the transport system in North Wales,” concluded Hart.