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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Battle for bypass on A69 goes to Europe

A politician battling heavy traffic on a busy road is taking his fight to Europe.

A69 road photo
Traffic on the A69 in Warwick Bridge

Bill Graham is concerned about the volume of vehicles on the A69 through Corby Hill, Warwick Bridge and Warwick-on-Eden.

He is calling for a bypass to deal with the problems and has pointed out that plans have been drawn up for one in the past.

Mr Graham, who represents the Hayton ward on Carlisle City Council and the Corby and Hayton division on Cumbria County Council, has noted that the A69 is part of an United Nations-backed scheme called the International E-road network, also known as Euroroutes. As a result, he believes funding for a new road could come from European agencies.

Mr Graham told The Cumberland News that his father – a farmer at Corby Hill – had been approached regarding such a bypass before World War Two and plans have been discussed since.

He said: “This bypass was pegged out in 1934 and since then bypasses have been built at Haltwhistle, Brampton and Crosby-on-Eden.

“On October 16, 1978 there was an exhibition on the A69 at Warwick Bridge Primary School asking people for their views on which of five routes they preferred.”

All the suggested routes put forward for a bypass in the 1970s began near Greenholme Lodge.

One extended north while the others headed south of the villages.

A consultation document – published by Cumbria County Council and the Department of Transport – said the A69 “severed” the villages’ communities from their amenities. It also said responses would be considered with one route chosen for further investigation.

Mr Graham said: “We are still waiting for the result.”

The former mayor of Carlisle also said he collected 1,300 signatures in favour of a bypass in a petition in 1998 and pushed for speed cameras and pelican crossings on stretches of the road.

The idea of ‘detrunking’ the A69, with traffic redirected to the A689, has been proposed by both Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart and Carlisle MP John Stevenson, who collected 1,500 signatures for a petition on the issue.

However, it is believed that maintenance contracts in place for the next two decades mean this many not be possible.

“If the bypass is going to cost too much we can always go for the detrunking of the A69 and move the traffic onto the A689 with a slip road on the M6 at Hadrian’s Camp,” Mr Graham also suggested.

“The A69 is a Euroroute and this is the only part of the route which goes through villages.”

He pointed out that there has been heavy European investment in Eastern Europe in recent years and believes some should now come to Cumbria.

Mr Graham is in contact with the north west’s MEPs to discuss the issue.

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: "Any scheme and decision to bypass Warwick Bridge would be the responsibility of the Highways Agency rather than Cumbria County Council and there are currently no plans within the council to support changes to the status of this road.

“The council would need to consider and agree its response to any proposal that might be made.”

The Euroroute scheme, introduced in 1950, is a numbering system for roads on the continent, designed to give a clear route across particular directions.

The A69 is part of route E18, which begins in Northern Ireland and finishes in Saint Petersburg.

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