Trying to sort out the dreadful congestion we face in the Longdendale area is, and always be, a priority for me. As our MP, and a former Longdendale councillor and resident of both Hollingworth and Mottram, I am determined to put an end to the traffic problem that plagues people in the area.
In 2009 the Highways Agency abandoned the plans for the Mottram-Tintwistle bypass after the projected costs escalated, leaving us all extremely disappointed.
After being elected as our MP, I began trying to get things moving again. I was adamant that the Government must understand that a solution still needed to be found, and that planning for that should be happening now.
So, for the past couple of years, myself, and the MP for High Peak Andrew Bingham, plus a range of local Councils including Tameside, High Peak, Barnsley and Derbyshire, have been working together to try and get this issue back on the agenda.
Only the Department of Transport has the resources to conduct this kind of work and at first getting them to take an interest wasn't easy. However in July, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced plans for a ‘feasibility study’ that would be undertaken by the Highways Agency to look at the traffic problems along the Trans-Pennine route (which includes the A628 and M67 in Longdendale).
The broad purpose of such a study is to identify strategic weaknesses in the road network, estimate how much of a priority these problems are, and, perhaps most importantly, try to put a cost on a solution. I think it is important our problems are being considered as part of a wider solution, as in the past focusing on it simply as a local issue has not yielded the kind of resources we need.
Despite the lack of detail I welcomed this announcement as a first step towards getting the Department for Transport to recommit itself to solving the traffic problems in Longdendale and throughout the Trans-Pennine corridor.
However, I am pleased to be able to tell you that the roads Minister, Robert Goodwill MP, has recently been in touch with me to confirm that work on this study is now getting started, and that it is the intention for this work to be completed by the Autumn of this year.
As a first step, I will be engaging with the Highways Agency in the coming weeks to ensure that the scope of this study will be sufficient, and I will be making clear what I think needs to happen to address the issues that have inspired this work to take place.
As ever, I am keen to keep constituents interested in this matter well informed, and am happy to speak to anybody who wishes to discuss this issue further.