Coastal highway plan may spur on A17 projects

Holdingham Roundabout on the A17 at Sleaford is in line for an upgrade. EMN-180116-123748001
Holdingham Roundabout on the A17 at Sleaford is in line for an upgrade. EMN-180116-123748001

A series of meetings are taking place this week that could pave the way to one of the most ambitious road schemes in Lincolnshire’s history.

Business leaders will join leading councillors and representatives of various organisations to discuss ideas for a new Coastal Highway, while other schemes for coastal routes passing through North Kesteven also continue to take shape.

The project is designed to open up the Lincolnshire coast and the Wolds to hundreds of millions of pounds of new revenue and investment.

Coun Richard Davies, LCC’s executive member for highways, said: “We’ve now confirmed that the Lincolnshire Coastal Highway is made up of the A46 from west of Lincoln through to the A158 to Skegness, along with the A57 from the county boundary where it joins the A46 in Lincoln.”

Supporters of the campaign stress improved transport links will deliver a massive boost to the entire county in terms of investment, development and jobs.

The project is being led by Lincolnshire County Council but has support from a number of key figures and organisations, including the region’s MPs.

The meetings will be held at key places along the route, with the A158 likely to be divided into separate projects including bypasses and sections of dual carriageway to deliver quicker access to the coast and the Lincolnshire Wolds avoiding notorious ‘bottlenecks’ in Wragby and Horncastle. Sources suggest the final bill could top £200m with Government assistance seen as vital.

The engagement sessions with local leaders, business and stakeholder groups will identify a long-list of upgrades and improvements, to be reduced to a shortlist for further investigation to create an overall strategy ahead of carrying out improvements as and when funding becomes available.

This would be another piece in the jigsaw of desperately needed upgrades to make the county accessible, with the A17/A16/A52, another key route to the coast already being lined up for improvements, including renewed plans for a bypass around Boston and £1.6 million in developer contributions plus £2m government growth funding secured for improvements to Holdingham roundabout at Sleaford to ease traffic pressure. There will be a meeting between county council and Greater Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership members in February to discuss when work may start on this.

A route action plan carried out by contractor Mouchel, on behalf of the county council two years ago, also identified priority schemes to improve traffic flow along the major A15/A16/A17 routes through the county. The highest ranking schemes at Sutterton roundabout and Holbeach on the A17 have now been carried out, leaving dualling the Heckington bypass as potentially next in line for funding bids.

Coun Davies said: “Dualling the A17 Heckington bypass is a long-term aspiration for the council; however, the estimated cost of such a scheme would be roughly £17.5m. This is money that we simply don’t have at the moment; however, we will continue looking for funding opportunities.

“In the meantime, we will continue work on further developing other, more affordable, improvements to the A17, which is one of the county’s busiest roads.”

The bypass was originally built wide enough for dual carriageway, but was reduced to single lane operation in each direction as a result of safety issues.