Including Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, Connectivity Studies, Major Road Network
The expressway is a key strategic transport project for the Heartland area, forming a multi-modal transport spine for the region along with East West Rail.
In September 2018, the Government announced that its preferred corridor for the
'western section' of the expressway between Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes would broadly follow the East West Rail link.
The 'western section' of the expressway is a complex and sensitive issue and it is critical that there is now detailed consideration of the route, led by strong evidence and meaningful engagement. A full public consultation is expected to be held in 2019.
In February 2019 Highways England announced its preferred route for the
'eastern section' of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway between the Black Cat roundabout and Caxton Gibbet on the A428.
England's Economic Heartland welcomed this announcement - this work is crucial for realising the Heartland's economic potential, supporting the ambitions of Local Plans and for improving the quality of life of those who use it or live nearby.
The January 25, 2019 meeting of the Strategic Transport Forum contained a number of updates around roads connectivity across the Heartland
Government has commissioned England's Economic Heartland to study how communities not on the the Oxford to Cambridge expressway's Western Section can still benefit from it. This will be delivered in three phases, with the first two phases due to be completed to inform our draft Transport Strategy to be published in summer 2019. This will include identification of key corridors. The third phase, development of proposals, will be commissioned post June 2019.
A similar study is due to be carried out for the area of the Heartland east of the M1.
Issues of strategic importance will be developed in more detail as work on the overarching Transport Strategy is taken forward. However, based on current understanding, the immediate strategic issues are:
- Ensuring that the Department for Transport's RIS1 (Road Investment Strategy, for the period 2015-2020) commitments, such as the
A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet scheme, are delivered in full.
- Ensuring that investment priorities identified as a result of the strategic studies undertaken as part of RIS1 are programmed in RIS2 (post 2020) and taken forward into delivery - while a new study focussing on Cambridge should also be undertaken.
- Ensuring that any additional investment priorities are determined on a joint basis between Highways England and the Strategic Transport Forum.
A key driver for identifying additional investment priorities will be the identification of the
Major Road Network. These are strategically important local authority A roads which deserve special recognition because of their importance to the economic wellbeing of regions and the country as a whole. A proportion of the National Roads Fund will be allocated to them.
The work to identify the Heartland's Major Road Network forms part of the development of the overarching Transport Strategy. EEH is also working on a proposed methodology to identifying investment priorities for the MRN.
Alongside the Oxford-Cambridge expressway, two other strategic studies which affects the Heartland region have been carried out by the Department for Transport. These schemes should be taken forward for delivery from 2020.
A1 East of England: Highways England continues to consider the options to address to improve the section between the M25 (Junction 1) and Peterborough (Junction 17). The Starategic Transport Forum is of the opinion that whilst there is a need to address current deficiencies there is also a need to consider opportunities for planned growth along this corridor that are being brought forward the Local Plan process. In taking work on this corridor forward it is important to also consider the linkages with the Oxford-Cambridge expressway work. It is essential that consideration of improved connectivity is not limited to a single corridor. It is on this basis that the Forum supports proposals to improve connectivity from the A5o5 to the A1(M) by extending the A5-M1 and M1-A6 routes across to the A505, and consider it to also be a priority for the Heartland.
M25 South West Quadrant: The strategic study appraised options for improving the performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25 South West Quadrant. It recommends that the focus of future work should not be on widening the existing road. Instead, attention should be given to how to reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network. It said this should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes, but added that the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.
In addition, in terms of Highways England's network issues that should be identified as being of strategic significance include:
- Improvements to the M1 corridor where these are required to enable delivery of planned growth, focusing on junctions on the M1 – in particular Junction 14 and Junction 10A and the southern section of the M1 (into Hertfordshire)
- Improvements to the junctions on the M11 corridor