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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

New Carlisle 'bypass' cuts city centre traffic by fifth

Cumbria's newest road has been credited with easing traffic congestion by a fifth.

Carlisle bypass photo 51
The new road

Motorists travelling from west Cumbria to the east of the county and beyond have noticed a marked difference in journey times since the new western bypass of Carlisle was opened in February.

Now early indications show the road, built as part of a £176 million private finances deal, is being used by about 10,000 vehicles every day.

That is traffic that would previously have had to travel through Carlisle.

Drivers have anecdotally reported dramatic drops in numbers of vehicles on the likes of Scotland Road and Castle Way since the Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR) opened.

But the statistics released today are the first piece of hard evidence that the bypass, which came into use in February, is paying off.

Tony Markley, the Cumbria County councillor responsible for highways, said: “Everybody who lives or work in the city will have noticed the changes that have occurred to traffic flow now that the CNDR is opened.

“Although these are early indications and we are building on a more scientific analysis, it’s clear that the road has delivered immediate benefits and it’s now a lot easier to travel through or around Carlisle.

“Some regular commuters are telling me they’re enjoying an extra 20 minutes in bed every morning because of reduced journey times.”

Traffic counters placed on one part of the new road have shown an average of about 9,580 vehicles using the route daily. That figure rises to just over 11,000 at the point were the long fought for five-mile route crosses the River Eden.

Cuts in vehicle numbers related to roads in and around the city.

Highways bosses placed traffic counters on a string of routes, which were in place before and after the new road’s opening, to monitor vehicle numbers.

In particular, the initial study suggest there have been a significant reduction in the number of heavy lorries on the roads.

As well as cuts in journey times for motorists travelling into the city centre, it has become much quicker for those driving through Carlisle to west Cumbria.

Although drivers currently face some delays at times in Caldewgate because of work to build a new Sainsbury’s supermarket, supporters of the new road say they would have been greater had the bypass not been in place.

Findings will be properly validated in a more detailed traffic study due to be compiled later this year.

The opening of the new road has also already been credited with boosting Carlisle’s financial fortunes, with bosses at the Kingmoor Park industrial estate reporting success on the back of development.

Mr Markley added: “In time, the county council firmly believes the CNDR will be a catalyst for developing the economy, not only in Carlisle but also in west Cumbria.”

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