Proposal to build relief road for Sudbury scrapped, as Suffolk County Council opts to pursue £10 million of junction improvements
Plans for a Sudbury bypass are no more, after Suffolk County Council announced it will instead pursue up to £10 million of junction improvements, to help ease congestion in the town.
The authority confirmed yesterday that it will not take forward proposals to build a relief road for the town – despite a long-running campaign by councillors and the MP for South Suffolk – after consultants WSP concluded the financial cost of delivering such a project would be “prohibitively high”.
Development is now proposed for five key junctions in Sudbury to help traffic flows, with the council working to develop detailed designs, as well as how these could be complemented by measures like improvements to walking and cycling.
The council added it is looking into potential sources of funding for this work.
This comes as a result of a review of Sudbury’s traffic problems and potential solutions, commissioned by the council in spring 2018, which has advised that junction work would be more cost-effective than a relief road.
Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and rural issues, said: “The priority for Suffolk County Council is to find the best solution for Sudbury.”
The announcement has been hailed as a victory by opponents of the bypass scheme, with county councillor Robert Lindsay stating he is delighted the council has “seen sense”, but frustrated it took so much time and taxpayers’ money to reach this conclusion.
But supporters of the relief road project have expressed their disappointment, with Sudbury councillor Jack Owen claiming motorists travelling in Sudbury now face “another 40 years of traffic misery”.
In its study, which is now nearing completion, WSP found that, while a bypass would provide a lot of benefits to Sudbury, the anticipated costs of between £50 million and £70 million meant there would be “a low benefit cost ratio” to the project.
Cllr Evans said: “We have looked at a number of ways to relieve congestion around Sudbury town centre, and have considered all options, including the construction of a bypass.
“Taking all this into account, the most feasible option for us now is to improve existing infrastructure rather than build a new road.”
The council now proposes work on five key junctions, including three junctions from the A134 – one linking to the A131 and B1064, one to the B1115, and one to Newton Road and Shawlands Avenue.
There will also be work on Belle Vue Junction, which links the A131 with Newton Road, Cornard Road and Great Eastern Road, plus the junction connecting Ballingdon Hill and Bulmer Road.
Reacting to the bypass proposal being scrapped, Cllr Lindsay, a long-time opponent of the scheme, told the Free Press: “We have always said it costs too much and isn’t going to improve the traffic situation.
“It’s a shame it has taken this long and the council has spent this much money to realise this, since it has been told this all along.
“This shows to me there was a political and ideological drive into this scheme, and the council was not looking at it in a common sense way.”
He said this new proposal would still need to be scrutinised, arguing the junctions should not simply be made bigger, but be adapted so that public transport, cyclists and pedestrians are prioritised.
But Cllr Owen, a strong supporter of a bypass, said: “The improvements to the very worst junctions in the town are welcome, but, as far as I was concerned, these were going to happen as well as, not instead of, the bypass.
“Given the planned population increase in Sudbury, the traffic chaos this decision creates will be disastrous for the town.
“The council seems happy to have a fight over damaging policies, such as cutting home-to-school transport, but, when it comes to something that would actually improve lives, it has no stomach for it.
“The council has rolled over in the face of the misinformation spouted by opponents of the bypass, who do not care one bit about what is good for Sudbury.”