A27 ‘delay’ ahead of key meeting

There are heavy delays on the A27 eastbound following a series of crashes
There are heavy delays on the A27 eastbound following a series of crashes

The publication of initial A27 options appears to have been delayed with the county council saying it is working with the consultant ‘at this early stage’.

A ‘long list’ of improvement options, including both online and offline routes, was due to be ready on Monday, a county council spokesman told the Observer this week.

Katie Hall, part of SYSTRA's A27 consultant team

Katie Hall, part of SYSTRA's A27 consultant team

Consultant SYSTRA did not release its list, though it appears the ideas will be ready in time for next Thursday’s crucial Build a Better A27 group meeting.

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We met with the consultant SYSTRA on Monday and they will be pooling a list of possible ideas to present to the next meeting of Build A Better A27, Chichester, on March 15.

“Build A Better A27 is very much a community-led initiative, so the consultants will be working with the group at this early stage to get feedback and shape the direction of the work.”

Having apparently missed one deadline, the race is on to narrow down the list to a single or few options which SYSTRA will then fully model.

David Carter, part of SYSTRA's A27 consultant team

David Carter, part of SYSTRA's A27 consultant team

The final deadline for submitting a community-devised improvement package to Highways England for the next round of government £3bn roads funding is said to be June.

However, with it requiring approval from both West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council in April to stay on deadline, it means there is now just around a month for SYSTRA to find a solution that not only wins broad local support but convinces the Transport Secretary it is worth bankrolling.

At next Thursday’s BABA27 meeting, community leaders are due to discuss the initial ideas and focus them down to options worthy of taking forward.

It makes it the most crucial community A27 meeting since the group formed a year ago after Chris Grayling axed Highways’ scheme.

With options likely to include potential northern bypass options – contentiously dropped just before Highways’ official and unpopular consultation last summer – due to be discussed by previously opposing campaign groups, agreeing a cohesive way forward is likely to be the hardest obstacle.

Improving air quality around the A27 is a core objective of BABA27.