The long wait for a much needed bypass for Grantham could finally be nearing its end, with news that work on the project is due to start next month.
Coun Richard Davies, Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for highways and transportation, confirmed with the Journal this week that clearance work along the proposed route will start at the roundabout on Spitalgate Level within the next couple of weeks, maybe even next week.
He added: “It is the beginning of the whole process. It is important that we clear the site as soon as possible, including pulling down hedging before the birds start nesting.”
From start to finish, work on constructing the southern relief road is expected to take at least three years to complete.
Questions had been raised in some quarters about the suitability of the chosen design for the road bridge over the Witham Valley to cope with the weight of traffic, but Mr Davies was quick to allay those fears.
He said: “There is no problem with the bridge design. We may add an extra span rather than have an embankment but, other than that, the bridge will be as per the chosen design.”
The clearance work is going ahead despite an appeal by developer Larkfleet Homes against the plans for the southern relief road.
In January, Larkfleet Homes was given permission to mount a legal challenge to the building of the bypass. The appeal, based on the environmental impact of the proposed southern quadrant housing development which is an integral part of the bypass scheme, is expected to be heard in April.
Mr Davies expressed his disappointment at the appeal, saying: “I understand they have their own views on the matter but I was born in Grantham and for as long as I can remember virtually everybody in the town has wanted a bypass. Now we have the opportunity to make it happen.
“It is my drive to get the road delivered. It is going to be the biggest piece of infrastructure built in Lincolnshire for quite some time and the difference it is going to make to the town is going to be huge.”
Senior project leader Les Outram, of Lincolnshire County Council, also confirmed that work was due to start shortly.
He said: “We’re concluding discussions with Network Rail regarding the impact of our proposals on the railway line and associated assets.”
The bypass is expected to bring thousands of new homes, with 4,000 properties anticipated over a 25-year period.
The economic benefits are also expected to be huge, with a proposed new business park set to provide local companies with the opportunity to expand, as well as encouraging new business investment in the town.