Glossop has waited so long for a bypass and seen so many plans come and go that local people can be forgiven for thinking, “I’ll believe it when I see it”.
But plans are now being firmed up and it is important to see what the impact will be on journey times into Manchester, and on any increase in traffic that reduced journey times bring. Quicker journeys to Manchester are important for people who commute or need to travel into the city, but congestion in and around Glossop affects everyone who lives here.
That’s why it wasn’t right for Highways England to go through the latest consultation on the final route for the Mottram bypass and Glossop spur road, without the figures to show the impact on traffic and journey times. I supported the call from our local Councils for an extension of the consultation to allow people to comment on those projections.
I met Highways England last week and they produced some draft figures, which show that journey times from Glossop to the M67 and back will be reduced throughout the day, especially in the evening rush hour.
But the faster journey time will also make it a more attractive route. More people travelling longer distances will have SatNav or phones telling them the A57 is the quickest route.
Quicker journey times will bring increased traffic. On the A57 that increase will be considerable, even if traffic moves more easily without the bottleneck at the Gun Inn, and has the potential to back up into Glossop.
I told Highways England that it needs to do everything it can to alleviate problems for Glossop residents who have waited so long for this bypass and don’t want it making our congestion worse.
Highways England will now work on alleviation measures with Derbyshire County Council to see what can be done, but the options are limited.
Dozens of local people came to my Tintwistle coffee morning with suggestions for improvements and I’ll be pleased to work with the Parish Council to press for this important work. But such improvements can only partially help residents.
The government needs to think big. One solution must be a proper bypass of Tintwistle and Hollingworth to improve journeys for the huge amount of traffic using the A628 to reach Manchester. Again, reduced journey times will see even more traffic using the A628.
Transport for the North wants to see the bypass as the first stage of upgrading to the A628 route between Manchester and Sheffield because the lack of decent road and rail connections are holding back the whole northern economy.
As soon as Highways England’s traffic figures for the Mottram bypass are finalised, I have asked it to look again at plans for a Tintwistle and Hollingworth bypass.
Whilst the new roads around Mottram do not have an obvious link for a further bypass, I am assured that they’ve been designed to enable a second dual carriageway to link to the new road planned between Mottram Moor and the A6018 Roe Cross Road to Stalybridge.
I will press the need for the A628 bypass to start as soon as possible after the Mottram bypass is completed. It must be designed to reduce the impact on environmentally sensitive areas; balanced by the environmental benefits of a huge reduction in traffic and air pollution for both Tintwistle and Hadfield.
I will support whatever road solutions help Glossop, but I believe the greatest and most cost effective measure to reduce congestion would be a new rail station at Gamesley.
Gamesley was opened 50 years ago with the promise of a train station to give connectivity to the rest of Glossopdale and to Greater Manchester.
The necessary track is already in place and the site is available. Five years ago, a station feasibility study put the cost at £6million. It’s a lot of money, but compared with the £242m budget for the Mottram bypass, I believe it is the most cost-effective solution for Glossopdale.
Both Northern Rail and neighbouring Jonathan Reynolds MP support this approach. Jonathan and I have requested a meeting with the Minister for Transport to discuss the need to manage the increased traffic around the Mottram bypass, and especially to encourage him to press ahead with plans for a Tintwistle bypass and a station for Gamesley.
Traffic problems can never be completely solved, but I believe we now have the evidence to support real solutions. I look forward to working with the community, and our local councils for the best possible long-term plans to help the whole of Glossopdale.