District and parish councillors have told the county council to scrap its useless plan to dual a small section of the A17.
Local representatives heard the £2.5million project was out to tender as they had their first formal consultation with highways chiefs, including Richard Davies, executive member for highways and transport.
The plan is to dual a stretch of the eastbound lane (travelling towards Sutton Bridge) between Gedney roundabout and Lutton Garnsgate, leaving no opportunities for overtaking from the single, westbound lane.
The meeting heard the project involves “about a mile” of road while a council report reveals “the full extent of the eastbound overtaking opportunity is 1.2km” (about three-quarters of a mile), which means a driver travelling at 60mph would cover the distance in 45 seconds.
Some £2.5million Government cash has been awarded, but district and parish councillors told the county council to hand it back – despite warnings that the project will save £1million from council coffers that would otherwise have to be spent maintaining that section of road and future schemes will suffer if Gedney 2+1 is axed.
An information sheet handed to councillors says failure to proceed “could diminish the DfT’s (Department for Transport’s) confidence in Lincolnshire’s ability to deliver such projects, meaning future funding bids for schemes like the Spalding Western Relief Road and dualling the A17 are less likely to be successful.”
Representatives from parish councils, including Sutton Bridge, Fleet and Tydd St Mary, told highways chiefs that hold-ups on the A17 are caused by traffic approaching roundabouts and Cross Keys Bridge – and there’s no problem with traffic flow between the Gedney roundabout and Lutton Garnsgate.
It was pointed out there are 10 farm accesses along the 2+1 and council senior project leader Sam Edwards confirmed they would stay open, while two lay-bys, one in each direction, will close.
Parish councillors wanted to know why there was no input from Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership and no accident statistics.
Sutton Bridge Parish Council chairman John Grimwood said: “This discussion should have taken place 12 months ago.
“I also think you are trying to blackmail us that if we don’t take it we are going to lose money.”
Sutton Bridge district and parish councillor Michael Booth: “I can’t see what you are trying to achieve other than wasting £2.5million.
“We always hear the words ‘use it or lose it’ – so make that road back to what it was and lose it (the Government cash).”
Tydd St Mary parish council chairman John Ley believed the council was trying to save cash from its road maintenance budget.
He said: “It saves you a million quid, that’s why you want to do it.”
Lutton Parish Council chairman David Wilkinson said it takes 45 seconds for a car travelling at 60mph to overtake one doing 50mph and drivers will “run out of road”.
Coun Wilkinson said: “This is all about you losing face with the Department of Transport.
“It’s important when you put these bids in they are robust. This bid for this scheme wasn’t robust from the beginning.
South Holland farmer Mark Tinsely, a senior figure with the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am all for improving the A17 but this is not the scheme.”
The meeting at the Curlew Centre, Sutton Bridge, heard a similar plan is in the pipeline for the Long Sutton area, this time with the westbound lane dualled.
Coun Davies described the 2+1 as “a strategic road improvement”.
He said: “I think it’s important that rural areas do see significant improvement and it’s right that we spend money.
“I will accept that we should have done this (meeting) some time ago. Please accept my apologies for that.”
• After the meeting, fellow county executive member Eddy Poll said: “I want to apologise on behalf of the county council for leaving the consultation until too late. We haven’t covered ourselves in glory over this.”
Coun Poll wants the scheme axed and said: “I think the majority of us are hoping so.”
Holbeach Rural county councillor Peter Coupland rubbished council claims the 2+1 will improve journey times, saying it will save 30-40 seconds at most, and revealed an entirely different scheme was on the drawing board three months ago.