I made improving communications a key priority in my re-election campaign. I am determined to see improvements to broadband, mobile telephones, rail and roads during this Parliament.
Improving the A5 has been one of my top priorities since I was elected in 1997. I used my first ever Adjournment Debate soon after my election to discuss the totally inadequate state of the single track road running north of Shrewsbury to Chirk. Sadly everything I said is still totally relevant today. I recently met the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, to discuss the A5 and other roads, supported by Daniel Kawczynski MP and Cllr Keith Barrow, Leader of Shropshire Council.
Despite being part of the Trans European Network running from Holyhead to Felixstowe this stretch of road from the Welsh border to the junction with the A458 at Shrewsbury is the only section that is a single carriageway. Tragically, deaths and injuries affect residents of North Shropshire disproportionately. Since 1991 there have been 48 fatalities, 308 serious casualties and 1,081 slight casualties.
Traffic volumes continue to increase. Everyone knows that at busy times the traffic grinds to a halt. I am absolutely clear that the only long term solution is to turn the entire stretch of road into a dual carriageway.
Incremental measures such as traffic calming have been suggested in the past but would not have a worthwhile effect and would be a waste of public money. What is needed is a clear strategic commitment to dual the entire stretch of the road.
The meeting was really productive and the Secretary of State listened carefully. Luckily he knows the area well having trained in 1974 as a chef at the Poachers, Gledrid although he remembers it as the New Inn! He agreed to ask the Highways Agency what the total approximate cost would be and over what time scale the work could be completed.
Evidence is to begin being taken for the “Road Investment Strategy 2” in early 2016. We agreed that, during the evidence taking, the Highways Agency would be invited to Shrewsbury for a full presentation on the proposed project. An initial report for RIS2 will be published in 2017 going out for consultation later that year. I look forward to liaising with the Highways Agency at all stages of this process.
Creating a dual carriageway will lessen the risk to drivers, reduce travel times and congestion, improving access to and from Oswestry. I look forward to hearing the outcome of the Secretary of State’s discussion with the Highways Agency and working together with him to resolve this issue once and for all.