Bob Walter welcomes A303 upgrade announcement

As a long-term campaigner for improvements to the congested A303, working alongside the A303 Improvement Campaign* partnership, Bob is delighted that Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment to upgrade this vital strategic route has become a reality, following the publication on Monday of the Department for Transport’s first Road Investment Strategy.

The A303, which passes through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and crosses the northernmost tip of Bob’s North Dorset constituency, is the main artery to the South West, connecting the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset to London and the South East.

Although dualled over much of its length, 35 miles of the A303 corridor are still single carriageway, causing terrible congestion, particularly over the summer holiday period.

The towns of Shaftesbury and Gillingham in North Dorset are located near this strategic transport corridor and Bob believes improvements to the A303 are essential to support local business and future growth in the area.

In 2012 an independent economic study commissioned by Parsons Brinckerhoff** stated that an A303/A30/A358 improvement scheme could generate 21,400 jobs, boost the economy by £41.6 billion, reduce fatalities and serious casualties on the route and cut carbon emissions.

The A303/A30/A358 corridor was the subject of one of six feasibility studies that the Government committed to undertaking at the last Spending Review in 2013, and Bob welcomes the Department for Transports decision to take these upgrade works forward as part of its £15billion Road Investment Strategy.

Bob said:

“Today’s announcement has been long-awaited and will be welcomed by all across north Dorset dependent on the A303, not to mention the millions of visitors who suffer terrible congestion each year in order to enjoy all that this area has to offer.

“I’m delighted that the Government has fully considered the undeniable economic case for investing in this strategic route and picked up the gauntlet so unceremoniously dropped by its predecessor. Investment in the A303 will not only boost jobs and growth, but increase the South West’s resilience to major traffic incidents and flooding, the need for which has sadly been demonstrated time and again in recent years.

“I also very much hope that, with decades of debate on this major regional road project finally over, other large-scale road infrastructure projects here in Dorset, such as an A350-C13 bypass, will now be able to make their way back on to the agenda and, with the help of local MPs, attract national support. The onus is now on our local highways authority to ensure such schemes are backed by a strong economic case and ready to roll.”