A494 decision will “ensure this corner of Our Lovely Land stays ahead of the game’
Deeside.com asked John Butler, volunteer community archivist, campaigner and Old Aston Hill resident for his view on today’s announcement that the RED ROUTE has been chosen by the Welsh Government as the preferred A494/A55 route.
Here’s what John Says:
“At last, Welsh Assembly Transport has announced their route preference for a major revision of the trunk road system in Flintshire.
It’s an unequivocal thumbs-up for the “RED” route option.
To those residents who have waited 10 years for a response to calls for an alternative route to connect North Wales with the rest of UK, this news from Minister, Ken Skates will be well-received.
The Minister’s preference recognises, that from its borderland origins through to Holyhead, the A55 and its subsidiary roads must tick all the boxes for residential access, tourism and commerce.
Good to see evidence of a confident, common-sense mindset -and a pragmatic approach to connecting people and businesses across the UK North West with North Wales. It will ensure this corner of Our Lovely Land stays ahead of the game.
The plans are for a brand new, trunk-road express-way. It will be a speedy transit, well-away from the sensitivities of concentrations of existing population, designed to supplement capacity to and from the A55 road whilst also providing an emergency/overflow alternative to the existing -and sometimes A494 dual carriageway.
Starting where the traffic of Merseyside and M56 merge at Shotwick, the proposed route will offer future road-users a new junction and a choice: take the existing dual-carriageway that passes through Queensferry & Aston or what will be a brand new highway that will skirt the Deeside Industrial Zone and, after heading across the new “Flintshire Bridge”, will link up with the existing express-way at Northop.
Getting to this decision has been a long & hard road
It’s a route first mooted over a generation ago when the latest river crossing was planned.
Getting to this decision has been a long & hard road. Its the result of ten years of local politician and Assembly deliberation and, perhaps most telling, a reaction to rational argument and the resolve of Flintshire communities not to let the ambitions of consultants and remote civil-servants, over-ride growing public concerns for levels of noise and traffic pollution.
The impact of road-building on the well-being of those living close-by has long been a core contention in Flintshire. Increasing traffic-volumes and consequences for noise and air-pollution have worried a generation.
Our own Local Authority, routinely tasked to monitor air-quality, has struggled with the practicalities of monitoring actual conditions at the kerbside.
Road-side home-owners have, until recent times, had no alternative but to accept assurances by, so-called “experts”. But these were based largely on computer forecasts and air-quality modelling. Turns out the public trust was misplaced.
Now that, throughout the UK, official figures for vehicle pollution emissions have been revealed to have been understated on an industrial scale, any case for widening existing busy roads that already run close to housing and schools, simply invites ridicule.
What happens next?
So what happens next? Conservation and sustainability of any new proposals will rightly warrant critical public scrutiny. There will be a public exhibition of the fully-developed new route. This will include a detailed explanation with large-scale plans of of all road locations and layouts of highways, pathways and intersections.
Civil engineering experts and government officials will be on hand to offer further guidance on everything that is new and on the table.
But all this is some time down the road. The momentum for change and transport integration suggests that investment in the area’s rail-network must soon follow.
For now, thousands of Flintshire folk, across the generations, who live or attend schools close to the existing, hard-pressed A494 dual-carriageway, will be breathing a little easier.
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