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20th July 1985, Page 46
20th July 1985
Page 46
Page 46, 20th July 1985 — NORTH/SOUTH DIVIDE?
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?


HOW does the North compare with the South when it comes to roads? Favourably, according to Transport Secretary Nicholas Ridley. He told a Stockport businessmen's luncheon earlier this month: "I keep hearing stories of the North/South divide. The allegation is that this Government gives all its attention to the South of England. But when one examines the facts, one realises that these charges are based on pure political opportunism and that the reverse is the truth.

"Take the subjects for which I am responsible: "First, roads. Progress on our road programme in the North West has been extremely good, as anybody who inspects a map can see. This progress and a high level of investment is continuing. Within Greater Manchester, our main task remains the completion and upgrading of the Manchester outer ring road and the Stockport north-south bypass.

"Construction of the Portwood-Denton section of the ring road will begin next year and we have recently published proposals for the last section from Denton to Middleton. Draft Orders for the A6(M) Stockport north-south bypass will be published shortly. These schemes will bring substantial benefits to the Manchester area and amount to one of the most significant investments in the national programme.

"Following our recent review of our road programme, we have added a road to link Bolton to the M6, bypassing Westhoughton, Hindley and Wigan. We added this at the suggestion of local authorities in the area.

"Second, railways. In April, we approved the Windsor rail link between the north and south of Manchester and we are now inviting the Manchester Airport Authority and British Rail to analyse the case for providing a direct rail link to the airport." Mr Ridley said that with airports the Government had taken several initiatives and will take more to help.

"Two years ago, there were 690 international services a week from regional airports," he said. "Today there are 925 per week — an increase of over onethird. The share of UK international traffic handled at regional airports has risen from about 18 per cent in 1978 to over 23 per cent in 1984. Our forecasts suggest that terminal passengers at regional airports will double by the end of the century."

IMPROVEMENTS to the road network in the North are detailed in the Department of Transport's report, National Roads, England 1985 (Department of Transport; £7) published in June with a foreword by Transport Ministe,r Lynda Chalker.

"The main developments on the national system in the northern region since 1983," it says, "are the completion of Berwick and Belford bypasses on the Al together with the opening of Bardon Mill bypass on A69. Grecnhead diversion, also on A69, though not yet complete was opened to through traffic in December, 1984. Work is well inder way on the second stage of the Al Alnwick bypass, while work should start on the Al Clifton-Stannington Bridge improvement in 1986. An important scheme is the A66 Darlington bypass which should be opened by the winter of this year.

"Bypasses and other improvements recently undertaken, in progress or planned will help the Al to meet future traffic needs throughout most of the region, but a number of small schemes will be carried out north of Felton to improve the single carriageway length of the Al in Northumberland. Further improvements will be made on the A696 with work starting on the Woolsington and Kenton Bank Foot bypass early in 1987.

"One of the most important schemes in the whole of the national programme is the Newcastle Western bypass. The Department has published Orders to cover the route which includes an improved Tyne crossing and has arranged a public inquiry for September. When this bypass is completed it will, together with the Gateshead Western bypass, provide a major new road on the western side of Tyne and Wear, and remove north-south traffic from the

centres of both Newcastle and Gat shead. It will also improve the east-we links between the whole of Tyne al Wear and the Tyne Valley towards He ham and Corbridge.

"The completion of the new Re hcugh bridge, constructed by Tyne ai Wear County Council with Governme assistance, has further improved lin between the new bypasses and toy centres. A heavy flow of traffic will attracted from the old Al (now A612 south of Gateshead and the A69 Eight( Lodge junction will be improve accordingly; work on this schen should start early in 1986. The At Team Valley junction which compl ments it is already under constructit and should open this winter.

"Work has progressed on a furth scheme between the A69 Horsley ar Corbridge bypass to complete the ir provement of the route from Tynesii to beyond Hexham; work will probab start in the spring of 1987. Further we the Department will examine what be done to improve conditions whe the road passes through the communiti of Haltwhistle and Haydon, Bridge.

"The A19 in the Region is now get erally improved but a scheme is beir added to the programme to provic grade separation at Peterlee. On the di ficult section of the A66 west of Bow to the county boundary, major improv /tient work could start by 1986. Fe lowing completion of the Bowes bypa and with the series of minor improv ments proposed to the road betwet Greta Bridge and Scotch Corner, ti A66 within the region should be ad quate for the expected traffic.

"The region will benefit substantial from the continuing upgrading of ti Al through Yorkshire. Within the r gion in general the Durham motorw Al(M) is adequate for the traffic it ca ries but there are some uphill sectioi where some congestion is beginning I appear. Small schemes are under stuc which will provide climbing lanes whe they are needed. In the area of Durhat City, the Department will discuss wit the county council what can be done I rearrange and improve the road ne work."

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