Hereford bypass plans scrapped

Herefordshire Council took the decision to stop all work on a western bypass for Hereford at its full council meeting on 2nd February 2021.

It has also axed its southern link road scheme, which represented a follow-on second stage of the bypass.

Balfour Beatty has been working on plans for the 8km road with consulting engineer WSP. The proposed route was through agricultural land and across the River Wye. Site investigation was conducted by CC Ground Investigations in early 2019.

According to Balfour Beatty, in a job advert for a project director last year, the bypass would have supported the delivery of 6,500 homes and 6,000 jobs, a new university and expansion of the Hereford Enterprise Zone at Rotherwas.

It will reportedly cost the council £12m to scrap the scheme.

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Herefordshire Council was Conservative-run until local elections in May 2019 saw it move to no overall control, with independents as the largest group. The bypass was a key election issue, with several newly elected councillors campaigning against it. In August 2019, work on the project was paused and a review commissioned, which was undertaken by Mott MacDonald for £67,000.

The council’s focus will now be on buses, cycling and walking instead, as well as possible Eastern river crossing.

Councillor John Harrington, cabinet member for transport, said: “In the changed new post-Covid-19 world of Zoom, commuting habits are going to change for good. We must use our financial resources very carefully, and it makes sense to start with the quickest and easiest changes to our networks.”

Finance cabinet member Liz Harvey said: “The data in the Transport Review shows that implementing the walking and cycling measures on their own will deliver a 14% reduction in delay and city traffic whereas the western bypass alone only delivers a further 1% less congestion while costing four times as much. The modelling data also shows that the bypass alone delivers less effect on reducing journey times than the walking and cycling measures. This is before any consideration is given to the impact of this road scheme on the environment and on the county’s carbon footprint.”

Council leader David Hitchiner added: “We all agree on the problems with travel in the city. A Western bypass would have been ten years away and cost over a quarter of a billion. We can now finally deliver the improvements which can be quickly put in place to get people moving – in healthier, less polluting and more sustainable ways. We are keen to progress work to deliver an eastern city bridge, which will increase movement choice and deliver resilience if the A49 bridge is out of action’.”

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