A MULTI-million pound revamp of a ‘horrendous’ road which causes ‘misery’ to thousands of motorists each day has been given unanimous backing by councillors.
The £38 million investment will see Worcester’s Southern Link road, which Malvern residents use to get to the M5 motorway, part-dualled in the next five years and the Ketch roundabout doubled in size in a bid to ease congestion.
At a meeting of Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet on Thursday (December 12), councillors admitted people were becoming increasingly frustrated at long hold-ups on the stretch from Powick to the Whittington roundabout which is used by 31,500 cars on an average weekday.
A report showed during the morning rush hour motorists were travelling at an average speed of just under 13mph while the evening peak saw a slight increase to 17.5mph on the road which has a speed limit of 60mph.
Councillors fear if nothing is done travel times could increase by up to 40 per cent by 2026.
Paul Tuthill, county councillor for Malvern Link, said the problems on the A4440 had a knock on effect on the neighbouring town.
“My door to door time for coming to here varies between 20 minutes and 60 minutes depending on when I come in,” he added.
“We are aware there are a number of businesses who would like to move to Malvern but they don’t because they come by road, get stuck, and they don’t come.
“Can a fair bit of this work be done at night because it’s going to be chaos if it’s done during the day?”
Work is set to start in March on a new slip-road for drivers who approach the Ketch island from Bath Road and turn left, as well as a bigger roundabout.
In 2016 dualling of the Norton roundabout to Whittington island is on the cards, followed by the carriageway between the Norton and Ketch islands. It is hoped the project will be completed by early 2018.
Deputy leader, Coun Simon Geraghty, said: “This route is not just important to Worcester city, it is important to the county and the whole of south Worcestershire.
“We’ve seen the growth in car-born traffic and we’ve seen the adverse impact of traffic congestion and variable queueing times.
“It is one of those routes that most residents now if they can avoid, do avoid.
“We are seeing very slow speeds for a 60-mile-an-hour road and without action we can see what is going to happen, significant increases in journey times for people.
“Over the next five years we are going to see a significant improvement in this route’s delays which will really unlock the potential in south Worcestershire.
“In approving this we are giving the green light to tackle this congestion hotspot.”
Coun John Smith, responsible for highways and transport, added: “There are over 30,000 vehicles per weekday using that road, it is horrendous.
“Anyone who travels that journey daily knows what it is like.”
Councillors also backed a 12-week consultation before work started on the Ketch Island