Highways England has confirmed that it will spend £250,000 on a study into a possible scheme that could upgrade a section of the A27 in Sussex to dual carriageway, despite progressing a £75m upgrade to the route.
Last month, the Government-owned company has announced its preferred options for the road to the East of Lewes.
A spokesperson for the Government-owned company said: ‘Highways England has announced plans which will help to make journeys around Lewes more reliable, reducing congestion and improving safety along this section of the A27, especially at the key pinch points in Polegate and Wilmington.
‘Highways England has also commissioned a study, starting this month, to examine the strategic case for larger scale scheme on the A27 to the east of Lewes. The study, which is expected to be complete in spring 2018, will look at all options along this stretch of the A27, but would have to offer value for money and support economic growth in the area.
‘Any plans for a larger scheme however would have to be considered for a future investment period.’
The disclosure that Highways England has commissioned a study into a scheme that could see a new dual carriageway built follows a controversial request from Chris Grayling to chief executive Jim O’Sullivan during this year’s General Election campaign. The transport secretary asked the Government-owned company ‘to provide £3m from the £75m for development a larger scheme’.
Highways England told Transport Network that the £3m earmarked at Mr Grayling’s request remains available if needed.
However, it remains unclear how this will be funded as both its announcement about the currently planned improvements and the webpage for that project give the cost as £75m.
When plans for the current upgrade were announced, Rupert Clubb, director of communities, economy and transport at East Sussex CC, said the council supported them but ‘remain committed to seeing the dualling of the A27 in the longer term and look forward to working with Highways England to achieve this’.