POLITICIANS have welcomed the chancellor’s budget announcement to accelerate the A66 Trans-Pennine upgrade.

In his speech yesterday, Conservative Rishi Sunak announced £135m for the development of the scheme ­— with an eye to starting construction on the road in 2024.

It’s also looking at halving the completion time from 10 to five years.

According to Highways England, the scheme involves improving the A66 between the M6 at Penrith and A1 at Scotch Corner.

The project will involve turning single-carriageway sections into dual carriageway, plus making improvements to the junctions along the route.

John Stevenson, Carlisle’s Conservative MP , said: “It is long overdue but it’s extremely welcome and I’m delighted that the Government’s made this announcement.

“The A66 is a key road to the north east and south of England, this is welcome news.”

Councillor Virginia Taylor, the Liberal Democrat leader of Eden District Council, said: “Well, I think the money is a drop in the ocean, the project is going to cost a lot more.

“But I’m really pleased they are going to do the dangerous sections ­— it is a murderous road in many places.

“More, however, needs to be done about the carbon.

“Eden is already affected with HGVs thundering through without actually so it’s no solution in itself. To help there needs to be additional investment to make the area more attractive.”

Tory councillor Paul Nedved, economy, enterprise and housing portfolio holder for Carlisle City Council, also welcomed the news.

He said: “The scheme has been long in the making and anything that improves road and rail infrastructure has to be welcomed.”

Managing director of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce Suzanne Caldwell has welcomed a number of policies in the budget.

She said: “There will be a collective sigh of relief when businesses digest the Chancellor’ s statement.

“We’d been lobbying hard through the British Chambers of Commerce for him to extend Covid support, and he’s done pretty much what we asked him to do.

“Governments always talk about boosting productivity, this will help do that and create well-paid jobs and help to create wealth and tax revenues to pay off debts incurred in the crisis.”