Call for investment in West Cumbria as Highways England plans work between Penrith and North Yorkshire
Calls have been made for major road investment in “forgotten” West Cumbria as the Government plans £1 billion worth of improvements to the A66 between Penrith and North Yorkshire.
Highways England is planning to complete the dualling of the section of the A-road it describes as the trans-Pennine route.
But the move has left people feeling that West Cumbria has been forgotten.
Councillor Nicky Cockburn, who represents Broughton St Bridget’s on Allerdale council, is a long-term campaigner for improvements on the A66 and said more is definitely needed on the route.
Coun Cockburn said: “They seem to forget that there is life from Penrith to Workington.
“We need major infrastructure investment all round here. The A66 to Workington definitely needs improving, and the A595 to Carlisle.
“There were two accidents on the A66 between Cockermouth and Workington on Wednesday. That surely demonstrates that there’s a need for improvements.
“If you can’t get to West Cumbria quickly you’re not going to get people investing in the area or wanting to visit.”
She highlighted that, while so much was being invested in more easterly sections of the road, the bridge at Stoneybeck, near Broughton Cross, is still awaiting repairs more than five years after it was damaged in a crash.
A Highways England said the work was prepared to be done in the coming months.
Coun Cockburn was one of the key campaigners involved in persuading Highways England to install a roundabout to replace the staggered junction at Broughton and Brigham.
That work is due to begin later this year, and work is also planned at Cockermouth’s Fitz roundabout, to widen the approach from the Lamplugh Road roundabout direction, and at Chapel Brow, to widen the approach from the Cockermouth direction.
The work will be a welcome boost for people who use the junctions, but it is believed it’s not enough.
Workington MP Sue Hayman is also concerned.
She said: “It’s disappointing that once again West Cumbria is at the back of the queue for transport investment.
“We need urgent major improvements to our main roads, particularly the A595 and the A66 west of Penrith, to make them safer for motorists and to speed up journey times.
“Better infrastructure would make our community less isolated and would encourage businesses to invest in our area.
“It’s time the Government prioritised West Cumbria, to allow us to unlock our economic potential.”
A Highways England spokesman said: “The decision to dual the A66 was announced in the Government’s Autumn Statement in 2016. Investment along the length of the A66 is taking place – indeed we are planning to start work on a further three A66 schemes between Workington and Cockermouth before the end of the next financial year, including roundabout improvements at Fitz and Great Clifton (part of the Government’s congestion relief programme) and a brand new roundabout at Broughton/Brigham.
“The secretary of state has announced a consultation into A595 bypass plans for Whitehaven.”
A Department for Transport spokesman declined to comment.