A bid for government funding for a package of junction improvements in March to address traffic congestion and make it easier to deliver new houses and jobs has been made by the county council.
The National Productivity Investment Fund bid, which is looking for around £4 million in two amounts between 2018/19 and 2019/20, seeks to improve junctions at Hostmoor Avenue/A141; the A141/B1099 Peashill roundabout; Station Road/Broad street with Dartford Road and High Street with St Peter’s Road.
It is backed by the combined authority and an announcement on whether or not it is successful is due later this autumn.
The project has three essential aims: Ease congestion, unlock economic growth and job creation opportunities and deliver housing development.
A by-product will be to improve air quality, especially in the Broad Street area of town, which is poor.
The main aim is to make it easier to deliver the 4,200 homes planned in the Fenland Local Plan together with 30 hectares of new employment land in March up to 2031.
The report, supporting the bid, explains: “Transport improvements and connectivity will play a key role in ensuring these economic benefits are realised but are also a challenge in that traffic and congestion are blighting the town centre.”
It says the technical work on the March area Transport Study (2011) and Market Town Transport Strategy (2013) identified the need for improvements to key junctions along the B1101 (Station Road, Broad Street and High Street) and the A141 (March by-pass).
The bid adds: “The junctions proposed for improvements are all key for access in and out of the town and within the town itself. The project will benefit the town population, around 22,000, along with visitors, tourists and employees from other areas in terms of reduced congestion, improved journey time reliability and improved accessibility.”
The project will enable 4,200 homes and 30 acres of employment land (providing up to 2,000 jobs) allocated on the southwest side of March on the town side of the A141, and on the same side but on the southeast side of March east of the B1101 and south of the Neale-Wade Academy to go ahead.
The report explains the schemes could be delivered individually and within the highway boundary.
If the bid is unsuccessful the report says: “Existing barriers to economic growth will remain, reducing the potential to build new homes and deliver new employment and causing connectivity problems between existing and new homes and employment.
“Congestion at key junctions and safety concerns will remain. Accident hotpots in the town centre Broad Street area will continue.”
Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Councillor said: “It is important that the bid is successful in ensuring that areas earmarked for development can be unlocked ensuring the future prosperity of the town.”