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Focusing on a seven-point plan to beat traffic jams

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SCDC Cllr Francis Burkitt, Merton House 17 Broadway Grantchester Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
SCDC Cllr Francis Burkitt, Merton House 17 Broadway Grantchester Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Francis Burkitt, vice-chairman of the City Deal executive board, writes for the Cambridge Independent about the year ahead.

There’s an exciting work-programme for the City Deal in 2017.

My main new year resolution is to continue to share our overall vision with residents, employees and employers, and explain how the individual schemes fit together. I want to consult widely, listen to responses, and reflect those views in our plans.

Everyone agrees that Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire are very special places, but our clogged roads and insufficient housing cause social problems for many people.

The City Deal – with 2017 improvements – is a force for good, and will make this a better place for people to live, work and study in.

The City Deal is a 15-year project, so 2017 will be only a small part of it. In the coming year, as well as affordable housing and apprenticeship projects, I want to focus on seven transport aspects: some are well-advanced, others are just getting going.

1. Major routes: To support the councils’ Local Plans for housing, I want to take decisions on a fast and reliable Cambourne-to-Cambridge bus route, and to continue seeking government approval to dual-carriageway the A10 between Waterbeach to the A14.

To increase capacity on the M11, we want the Highways Agency to turn the hard shoulder into a third lane. We also want it to investigate remodelling the Girton Interchange (that’s not going to be cheap or quick).

To improve connections south-east from Cambridge, we want to expand the park and rides and bus connections in that direction (personally, I’d love to reopen the railway line to Haverhill as a busway). Finally, I want to address the Foxton level crossing.

2. Biomedical Campus: we desperately need to address access to it. In particular, I’d love to see a new Cambridge South railway station, more park and ride spaces and a declogged M11 junction 11.

3. The city’s radial routes: It’s silly if buses crawl slowly from the edge to the centre of the city. People will only use them more if they flow freely and reliably. Our current focus is on Milton Road and Histon Road, but I also want us to look at helping buses move faster between each park and ride, Cambridge North station, and the city centre.

4. The city centre: Many residents are concerned by congestion and air pollution; others want more residents’ parking areas near their homes to stop their streets being filled by commuters. We need to sort out both. I want to start a consultation on a workplace parking levy at large sites, like Nottingham’s successful scheme, to raise much-needed funds for other transport schemes, such as the bus network – and I’d like to see it pay for free park and rides.

5. Transport hubs: Rural areas need better bus services, and better facilities to switch from car/bike to bus/train. Parish councils have suggested hubs at Whittlesford, Shepreth, Meldreth and Foxton stations, and at Oakington and Swavesey guided bus stops.

I’d like to investigate the land and planning aspects of these in 2017.

6. Cycling: The Chisholm Trail and five city cycling schemes are under way, and I’m excited by the Greenways project to add a network of cycle routes to the neighbouring villages.

7. SmartCity: We’ll soon launch a ‘Travel App’, and next I want to think of other ways of using the data we’re now collecting, and how that informs travel choices – and I like the idea of more traffic lights that turn green when a bus approaches.

As I’ve said, we have a busy programme, with a clear vision and objective – to address transport challenges to make this a better place for people to live in.

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