'I am doing all I can to ensure Grantham relief road will be finished as soon as possible'
Column by Richard Davies, executive member for Highways
Over the summer, work has continued behind the scenes to put us in a position to begin the second phase of the Grantham Southern Relief Road.
Good progress has already been made on the project, with the first phase – the construction of the B1174 and Tollemache Road roundabouts – completed two years ago.
As many of you will be aware, the county council now needs a range of legal permissions in order to build the second section of the road, which will join the B1174 to the A1.
Unfortunately, the Department of Transport, which grants these permissions, has received objections from Network Rail, Zurich, Western Power Distribution and Grantham Motor Company.
Despite our having been in discussions with these organisations for some time, new issues surfaced at the eleventh hour – much to our disappointment.
So, to avoid a time-consuming, and, in my opinion, entirely unnecessary public inquiry, we have entered into fresh negotiations in a bid to address their new concerns and prevent the scheme being delayed into 2019.
These discussions have been positive for the most part and I'm hopeful that we can avoid the scheme's being delayed into 2019.
This is, of course, a frustrating experience for us – and residents and businesses as well, I'm sure – but it is unfortunately part and parcel of building a major piece of infrastructure like this.
However, I can assure, the new road will ultimately be built.
While this legal process has been taking place, we've been getting on with all the necessary preparatory works so we can hit the ground running as soon as we get the green light.
It's important for people to remember that a project of this scale requires a lot of work beyond building new carriageway and bridges.
Although we're not laying tarmac just yet, we have a dedicated project team working hard to get us to that stage.
Archaeological works across the entire site are now complete – giving an even greater insight into what Grantham was like thousands of years ago.
And we've also carried out the necessary ecological works and cleared the hedges on site.
That means we're in a position to get boots on the ground as soon as we have the legal permissions we need.
This scheme is essential to Grantham's future. Not only will it reduce congestion and improve journey times for those travelling in and around town, but it will also enable economic growth to the south of town.
That's why I'm doing all I can to ensure the road is finished and opened as soon as possible.