The Standard’s campaign to draw down up to £100 million investment so that the new Boston Distributor Road can be built sooner has been given support by local businesses who say it would create opportunity and make the town more attractive.
Business leaders in Boston are hoping the investment from a new ‘economic corridor’ could bring a number of benefits to the town.
The Standard is campaigning for up to £100m funding to be drawn down from a recently announced £100 billion Government scheme, aimed specifically at improving road networks.
The money, it is hoped, would be used for the planned Boston Distributor Road linking the A16 north and south.
Boston Borough Council has thrown its backing behind the campaign and Economic Development Manager Clive Gibbon said there were some real opportunities to be created by the road.
He said: From an economic point of view and speaking holistically this potential ‘economic corridor’ could createsome real transformational change for Boston and improve its economic resilience.
“This is especially so when put with the Boston Barrier as it starts to secure Boston as a place to invest.”
Mr Gibbon said that with a ‘good coherent strategy’ also linking in developments in techonology and housing etc, opportunities could include creating ‘leisure’ and ‘knowledge-based’ industries.
The opening of packets of land along the road could also create opportunities for further housing and for larger businesses requiring greater square footage to come to the town as well.
The Chamber of Commerce has also supported the campaign.
Its members say that the current situation sees customers avoid Boston as they find it easier to travel into other shopping areas such as Spalding.
They say that the increasing traffic issues mean that providing for accurate delivery times to their businesses is becoming more and more a problem.
It also means people don’t necessarily know when to set off. One comment says: “You know it is best to leave plenty of time, but you can find yourself very early as sometimes the traffic is better than expected.
“Therefore this can lead to inefficient use of time or downtime.”
The chamber’s members believe that there are less passing visitors as routes are taken to avoid Boston, rather than making it part of the journey.
Businesses believe the perception is that the town is gridlocked all the time, which they say affects the town’s reputation. They add it makes it’ ‘unattractive/less attractive than similar locations to invest’.
Employees who don’t want to battle with the traffic, or find it easier working out of town, have also become hard to attract and retain, say the businesses, with high turnover of staff leading to increased costs.
The chamber says business told them that: “The roads have a stranglehold on the town.
“Less footfall means less viability for the existing shops, more likely to increase the vacancy rates as new business finds it less attractive, which diminishes the vibrancy of the town in an ever more negative way year on year. A spiral of decline.”
Currently, businesses deal with the issues by allowing more time for journeys (often at a great cost to them), or by accepting that they have to turn up to meetings late.
The businesses say they hope that the new road would benefit them by creating more certain travel time and saving fuel costs. They hope that by making the town more attractive for visitors, and improving its reputation, there would be the opportunity for higher footfall.
They say Boston would have the opportunity to create a more vibrant town that is able to retain and grow its visitor/shopping draw.
They added that: “The traditional draw from Skegness in the holiday season could be renewed/improved as it is easier to make the journey.”
It is believed the road would have a positive effect on inward investment prospects. It would also see environmental issues reduced due to lower levels of pollution generated by traffic congestion, say members.
There would also be a boost for tourism with the town becoming easier to access and en route rather than ‘to be avoided’. Cycleways could also be improved and used more, say members, because cyclists would be ‘less likely to be as frightened if traffic levels in key town areas are reduced’.
The new road would allow for growth of the town and potentially free up development land that in theory might contribute towards any road via section 106 or other methods.
The Highways chief at Lincolnshire County Council has also welcomed the Standard’s campaign and the lobbying of people signing the petition this week.
Coun Richard Davies, executive member for Highways, said: “It’s great that more people are getting involved and lobbying Central Government for more money for our roads.
“If Lincolnshire received the average funding for council areas in England, the region would benefit from £116 million of extra funding for services every year – some of which could be used towards major road projects like a Boston Distributor Road.
“That’s why we’re calling on the Government for fairer funding for the county
“In the meantime, we will continue working with developers on delivering elements of the Boston Distributor Road, and will also continue looking into where funding for other future sections of the distributor road could potentially come from.”
The Standard launched its campaign to get residents to become a driving force in getting a share of the funding to ‘improve productivity and connectivity of towns, tackle bottlenecks and traffic jams and through traffic’ earlier this month.
We’re calling on the Government to send some of the recently announced extra money from the National Roads Fund to help pay for, and speed up the building of, the new £100m Boston Distributor Road in a bid to help ease traffic flow around the town.
In an ideal world, a fully-funded new bypass would be the perfect solution for the town’s residents.
However, official data continues to show that the majority of traffic is heading into the town, but not coming out the other side.
Officials believe the new road, which has started in the Quadrant and will eventually link the A16 north and south will reduce the impact of traffic dramatically.
The road, which will include two new bridges, is set out in the Boston Transport Strategy, but at the moment could take more than 20-plus years to complete (the strategy only covers up to 2036).
It would be hugely reliant on contributions from housing developers and funding out of already tight budgets.
However, authorities can bid for between £20-50 million and in exceptionally strong cases £100 million – which would cover the majority of costs involved.
The Government has already listed some main roads it thinks could be considered, and Lincolnshire County Council has also moved to put some extras in its bid.
Announcements about selected projects will be made in the summer.
The Standard’s campaign, which would aim to deliver the petition to the Transport Minister before the summer announcements, is already backed by Boston Borough Council, which says speeding up the plans for the road would reduce town centre congestion, boost economic development, open up land for housing and reduce Haven Bridge area air quality issues.
To get involved fill in the coupon opposite, or sign the petitions which will be available at Municipal Buildings, Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex and the Guildhall.
Return all completed petition forms to Municipal Buildings by Monday, April 30.
Have your say in The Standard by emailing email@example.com
FACTFILE: Boston Distributor Road Boston Distributor Road would provide a new route around the west side of the town, linking the A16 to the north, the A1121 Boardsides and A52 to the west, and the A16 to the south.
A safeguarded corridor for the route has been identified in the draft South East Lincolnshire Local Plan.
The road has been started as part of The Quadrant development by Chestnut Homes.
The scheme provides the initial section of the distributor road by linking the A16 with the adjacent London Road.
The plan at the moment will then be to head south along London Road a short way before another new road is begun, which will run to the A52 Grantham Road before crossing the New Hammond back behind Tesco/Aldi - thereby avoiding traffic along Wyberton West Road.
As part of the proposed route, there are sections which would require major structures including road, river and rail bridges over the New Hammond Back, and a similarly larger bridge over the Maud Foster drain.
It is estimated that the entire distributor road would cost in the region of £100m.