The completed A500 Pathfinder project in Stoke on Trent was officially opened
today by Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander. The £55M improvements
will ease local congestion, is acting as a catalyst for environmental regeneration
as well as boosting the local economy.
The Highways Agency has used a pioneering approach to road improvements to
complete the scheme two years earlier than if traditional measures were used.
The road, which carries around 60,000 vehicles a day, is the first in the country
to use an innovative system called Early Contractor Involvement. This makes
the best use of the construction industry's expertise and brings better value
for money for the taxpayer.
Douglas Alexander said:
"The £55M improvements to the A500 in Stoke-on-Trent demonstrate
the Government's commitment to tackling congestion, improving public transport
in tandem with developing new road schemes and boosting environmental regeneration.
It will also have benefits for the local economy - with significant interest
already being shown in the development of brownfield sites along the A500 corridor.
"There have also been improvements for pedestrians and cyclists, better
bus facilities, less noise for local residents and improved air quality because
of reduced congestion.
"Alongside this, extensive environmental measures have improved the River
Trent, the Fowlea Brook and the Trent and Mersey Canal. Wildlife has been encouraged
to better establish itself, including rarer species like otters, and existing
watercourses have been placed in new open channels."
Highways Agency Chief Executive Archie Robertson added:
"Through strong, positive partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council,
the Highways Agency has delivered the A500 Stoke Pathfinder project using a
new approach called Early Contractor Involvement. We have been able to use the
best of the construction industry's expertise and reduce the time taken to bring
benefits to the people using the road. "
Stoke on Trent Elected Mayor Mark Meredith said:
"The twin highways of the A500 and the A50 now form the main arteries
to significantly improve access into the heart of the North Staffordshire conurbation.
"This will aid the regeneration of every part of the city, and will ultimately
benefit everyone who lives and works in Stoke-on-Trent. Local and long distance
journeys are now improved, and that means we can capitalise on Stoke-on-Trent's
excellent central location".
The A500 Pathfinder Project has:
Replaced the Stoke Road and City Road roundabouts with new junctions.
Constructed underpasses in the wide central reserve, which now carries
the A500 through traffic below the local road network.
Established slip roads with traffic signal controlled junctions connecting
the A500 to the local road network at Stoke Road and City Road
Made the old A500 carriageway into a two-lane link road between the two
Widened the existing dual carriageway to three lanes from Shelton New
Road junction to Stoke Road junction and between Whieldon Road and the junction
with the A50.
It has improved access for pedestrians and cyclists across the busy trunk
road, and between the Hanley Shopping Centre, railway station, University,
and Stoke Centre. There are also improved facilities for buses and public
transport users at the new traffic signalled controlled junctions.
The name "A500 Stoke Pathfinder" reflects the innovative flagship
status of this scheme as one of the first to use the Highways Agency's Early
Contractor Involvement procedure to speed up delivery.