Two new schemes have been announced that aim to unlock the full potential of England’s economic heartland and fast-growing technology hotspots through improved transportation infrastructure along the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor.
UK Roads Minister, Jesse Norman, has announced the chosen central corridor for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway. After detailed scrutiny and review by Highways England, of the three options, Corridor B was judged to offer greater benefits to the region, outperforming the other routes by providing better links to jobs, education, leisure and health services. The expressway, with options to pass either west or east of Oxford, is also expected to take up to 40 minutes off the journey between the A34 south of Oxford and the M1 north/south motorway.
Building the new link close to the east/west rail link will also offer more options for the commercial development of up to one million new homes, in line with proposals by the National Infrastructure Commission, and encourage more people to travel by train rather than by cars. A full public consultation will be held next year, in which residents and businesses in and around the corridor will have their say on more detailed designs for the route, with the road on schedule to open to traffic by 2030.
“The government is taking the big decisions on infrastructure, working to maximize growth and productivity across the UK,” noted Norman. “England’s economic heartland, as it has been called, already plays a crucial role in powering the UK’s growth, science and innovation, but there is no single route to connect Oxford and Cambridge. This expressway will enhance both transport connectivity and growth across the region for the benefit of the UK as a whole.”
In an additional move, the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) and the England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) organization have signed an agreement to deliver innovative transportation infrastructure for the region. EEH is a voluntary strategic partnership of councils and local enterprise partnerships representing the area from Swindon through Oxford, Milton Keynes to Cambridge, and from Northamptonshire to Hertfordshire. Its membership brings together Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships in a shared ambition to realize the economic potential of the Heartland.
The TSC-EEH agreement will focus on the use of data, consolidating member authority live transportation data from across the region to facilitate ‘joined up’ transportation solutions. The TSC will also assist with policy modeling and real-time network management tools and the transportation of freight. The EEH and TSC will also look to identify Grand Challenges for the region’s transport infrastructure that can be promoted as opportunities to local businesses and academia.
The TSC’s chief engagement officer, Helen Wylde, said, “Realizing the potential of the region will require additional public and private investment in infrastructure which is sustainable and fit for future travel and transportation needs. Through this agreement, we will help EEH identify and realize transport solutions that are integrated across the region and take advantage of the latest technologies to deliver real economic impact.”