Consultants appointed to develop road scheme

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THE Highways Agency has appointed engineering consultants to develop proposals for the £160m upgrade of Hull’s busiest road.

The Mott MacDonald Grontmij Joint Venture will develop cost, preliminary design, construction, and environmental proposals for improvements to the A63 at Castle Street.

The announcement follows a visit to the site earlier this week by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

The dual carriageway carries about 35,000 vehicles a day and links the docks and city centre and the M62, but is often congested and has long been considered a barrier to investment and economic growth.

The scheme aims to ease congestion but also create improved access from the city centre to the city’s marina and waterfront.

Proposed improvements include lowering and widening a section of the A63 and, according to the consultants, “the provision of footbridges at discrete locations to facilitate access needs”, although it is not clear if this will satisfy Hull Labour MP Alan Johnson, who said after meeting Mr McLoughlin on Monday that it was vital to include an “iconic” land bridge over the A63 to properly connect the city centre with the waterfront.

Mr Johnson added: “What we are saying is if you do this and don’t get it right and reconnect the city centre with the waterfront, then you’ll come back and have a problem you’ll have to resolve in another 10 years time.”

The scheme is one of six chosen to have its development work funded in the current spending review for potential construction, the agency said.

A public consultation on detailed design proposals is due to be held in the summer. Consent would have to be given by the Planning Inspectorate.

Mr Johnson said the work was “absolutely crucial” for the city’s future.