Written by RICHARD CASTLE AND RICH GUTTRIDGE
TENS of millions of pounds are to be ploughed into improving the A50 as part of a Government infrastructure spending spree.
The ‘vital’ investment will help to ease congestion along the major artery north of Burton heading towards Uttoxeter.
The work will involve converting roundabouts into ‘grade-separated’ facilities, with flyovers will be built over the roundabouts and across the A50, allowing dual carriageway traffic to plough on without having to stop.
The £40 million project will begin in 2014 and is expected to take a year.
The news will come as welcome relief for commuters and employers alike as congestion and journey times are cut down.
Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths held personal talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, as well as lobbying Parliament for 10 weeks, to push the plans through.
Mr Griffiths has been particularly vocal about the need for highway improvements along the major route, which serves thousands of motorists in East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire every day, and has now finally got his wish.
As well as cutting congestion and improving safety as a whole, Mr Griffiths believes the investment will also provide a boost to businesses.
He said: “These changes are going to make a massive difference to road safety and give the whole area a massive boost in terms of the economy.
“I was convinced it was only a matter of time before a really serious accident or even a fatality occurred as a result of inadequate islands.
“Levels of traffic on the A50 are only going to increase and the islands wouldn’t have been able to keep up with that, particularly in the case of HGVs coming from JCB and traffic from Alton Towers, without significant investment.
“In the summer, especially, the whole stretch regularly comes to a complete standstill.”
“The A50 is such an important strategic corridor for businesses like Toyota and Rolls Royce, not to mention JCB and Alton Towers, and they need quick, efficient roads to transport their completed products every day. If these firms grow, that will only increase traffic and I wanted to make sure motorists don’t suffer from that.
East Staffordshire digger giant JCB has thrown its weight behind the project.
A spokesman said: “Major improvements to the local road network will be most welcome for all businesses served by the A50.
“We welcome the announcement because the Staffordshire section of the A50 is in need of upgrading.
“Otherwise it would become an increasing barrier to future economic growth in the region.”