Highways England will progress a £75m upgrade to the A27 in Sussex, despite the possibility of a larger scheme that would upgrade the route to dual carriageway.
Following a consultation last year, the Government-owned company has announced its preferred options for the road to the East of Lewes, which it said will ease congestion and improve safety, especially at key pinch points.
The A27 to the West of Lewes is a dual carriageway
Four junctions along a nine-mile section of the A27 between Lewes and Polegate will be improved, a section of the Polegate bypass will be upgraded to a dual carriageway and walking and cycling facilities along the whole stretch will be enhanced.
Project manager Tom Beasley said: ‘It’s great to see that there is such strong backing for improvements to this section of the A27, and there were some really good ideas put forward. People’s input has helped to shape our plans and we’ve made some key changes to our proposals to make sure they deliver the biggest benefit.’
Highways England said proposals to upgrade Selmeston junction had been withdrawn after no options could be found that would deliver a worthwhile benefit without having an unacceptable impact on the South Downs national park.
The announcement comes despite a controversial request to Highways England from transport secretary Chris Grayling during this year’s General Election campaign to spend £3m on a study examining options for a larger scheme to dual the route.
Transport Network has approached Highways England to establish whether this study is proceeding and, given that it was to be funded out of the £75m, how it would now be funded.
Rupert Clubb, director of communities, economy and transport at East Sussex County Council, said: ‘We support these small scale improvements because they deal with known pinch points along the A27 and would be in place sooner than a dualling scheme.'
'However we remain committed to seeing the dualling of the A27 in the longer term and look forward to working with Highways England to achieve this.’
Chris Todd, local groups campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘This is a welcome announcement from Highways England, which has dropped schemes that would badly impact on the South Downs National Park.
‘We welcome the investment in local transport for pedestrians, cyclists and bus users, but more needs to be done. ’
The current plans include:
- widening Drusillas Roundabout to improve journeys along the A27 and for north-south traffic at the junction
- a new option for upgrading Wilmington junction, making it easier for drivers to join or leave the A27 and including a horse rider and cycle-friendly Pegasus crossing
- widening a half a mile section of the A27 between the Polegate interchange and the Cophall roundabout to a dual carriageway, and an upgraded, signalised junction at Polegate
- near to the Polegate interchange, as a result of the consultation, introducing new proposals for upgrading the Gainsborough Lane junction by providing a right turn facility
- significant enhancements to the walking and cycle routes along this 9-mile stretch of the A27, including a new pedestrian and cycle path between Firle and Polegate