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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Cumbria bid for £4.5m to ease bottlenecks

Millions of pounds is being bid for to ease pressure on busy bottleneck road junctions.

M6 junction photo
Money would be used to improve junction 40 of the M6

Cumbria County Council is leading a charge to secure up to £4.49m of works on the western edge of Penrith.

Efforts are being made to land Government cash to make the work possible.

If successful, supporters say the upgrades will enhance efforts to boost business and job prospects surrounding one of the busiest junctions off the M6.

The Government has a £55m cash pot to remove bottlenecks blamed for impeding economic growth.

In Penrith, work is concentrated on increasing the potential of key sites near junction 40 of the M6 – at the heart of the north-south route, as well as being a busy interchange for traffic heading towards west Cumbria and the north east.

The county council says it wants to improve access to the Gilwilly Industrial Estate, Eden Business Park and towards the college at Newton Rigg.

That would mean improvements at junction 40 – where the A592 meets the A66 eastbound – at the Haweswater and Ullswater Road roundabout and on Newton Road, where it meets Haweswater Road and Cowper Road.

But to stand any chance of success with the Government, the county council must secure financial support from other agencies.

And if it is to get enough money to carry out work at all three locations, that means securing at least £1.35m to match what may be on offer from the Department for Transport.

Eden Council debated the issue last night. Its members were being recommended to support the bid to the tune of £150,0000. A report to councillors stated that junctions close to the Gilwilly Industrial Estate are of “urgent need of improvement”.

It added: “If successful, the schemes would make a significant improvement to the town centre infrastructure, be a boost to existing employment sites and greatly assist the viability of becoming identified.

“Without the pinchpoint funding, the junction improvements will still be required, but will need to be funded, at least partly, from developer contributions which will make employment schemes less viable and/or reduce the affordable housing component of housing schemes.”

If the whole £1.35m needed to support all three schemes cannot be secured, the county council says its bid to the Government will be reduced. Focus will then be placed on the programmes likely to have the greatest impact.

Eden Council officers asked councillors to endorse their position that, in their view, the scheme at Haweswater Road/Newtown Road/Cowper Road, would be their preferred priority.

If the bid for Government support is successful, it’s likely that the upgrades would happen before March 2015.

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