M5 Motorway ‘should be extended to Plymouth’

Latest in a long line of calls see:

2017 M5 will be extended to Plymouth if these business leaders get their wish

Further calls to upgrade the main road between Devon and Cornwall to a modern standard motorway have been made.

Daniel Clark www.cornwalllive.com 

Plymouth City Council have long been calling for the modernisation of the A38 to ensure the route reflects its status as a major trunk road.

The upgrade of the road could cost around a £1billion scheme, but could lead to some of the tiny communities between Plymouth and Exeter being ‘cut-off’ because ‘farm-track’ style roads connecting them to the dual carriageway would never comply with motorway regulations.

The A38 is an important lifeline for Plymouth, but in its current state, it just cannot cope with forecast demand, councillors this week heard.

One of the commitments that the new Conservative administration Plymouth City Council put in their manifesto ahead of the May Local Elections was to lobby for the M5 motorway to be extended past Exeter to Plymouth. The commitment had previously been a pledge under the previous Labour administration.

And at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Jonathan Drean, cabinet member of transport, announced that he had written to the city’s MPs asking them to lobby for the A38 between Bodmin and Exeter to be included as a priority for investment.

Cllr Drean said: “I am asking them for support for Plymouth’s goal to bring about the modernisation of the A38 to reflect its status as a major trunk road, and this is consistent with the significant growth ambitions that everyone is aware of.”

Improving and modernising the A38 would put safety first by reducing the frequency and severity of accidents, providing better journeys through reduced journey times, increasing reliability; strengthening resilience, and moving towards motorway standard would support economic growth with improvements, generating £885 million of productivity growth and inward investment.

Beyond Plymouth’s boundary, the A38 from Saltash to Bodmin and Deep Lane to Exeter suffers from inconsistent road and junction standards, low quality maintenance and in places there is a poor safety record that needs to be addressed, previous calls for upgrades had said.

Business leaders had previously added that while the A38 will not be transformed overnight, decades of under-investment must begin to be addressed.

“The modernisation of the A38 forms a part of the long term ambitions for the City as set out in the Plymouth Plan. To deliver this plan and support regional growth, the city and the South West region needs a modern A38, built to a motorway standard, accommodating planned growth and supporting the South West region’s economy in the years to come,” a Plymouth City Council statement had previously added.

The meeting also heard that the commitment to continue to raise the city’s profile with Government to level up the investment within the city to provide a resilient and reliable road and rail network to serve Plymouth had also been met, following the recent announcement that Devon County Council had secured more funding to enable exploration work to continue into reopening the Tavistock to Plymouth line.

The former Tavistock North station opened in June 1890, but closed on May 6, 1968, as part of the Beeching Axe.

There has been a long-held ambition for the re-opening the link between Tavistock and Plymouth is to encourage people to use rail services, and the reinstatement of the rail line to Tavistock is identified in the 20-year plan of the Peninsula Rail Task Force.

And now plans have moved a step closer after the project was awarded funding as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget last week, getting £50,000 towards the next stage of works for the business case towards the rebuilding the line between Tavistock and Bere Alston in Devon, connecting Tavistock and Plymouth by rail.

Cllr Drean had previously added: “We’re really pleased to have supported and advised our colleagues at Devon County Council on this really exciting scheme.

“Should this project ultimately become successful then it would complement the improvements we are making at St Budeaux Square by increasing the opportunities to transfer between bus and train to access more parts of the city by public transport, while also easing pressure of traffic on the A386 corridor.”

Devon County Council will now produce a Strategic Outline Business Case and update extensive survey work already undertaken on the route.

The hope is to reinstate the disused rail line between Tavistock and Bere Alston, providing hourly rail services through to Plymouth, as well as opening a new single platform railway station at Tavistock next to the 750 dwelling development under construction.

Two-hourly services between Plymouth and Gunnislake would be maintained

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