£200m Deeside road programme a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity


David Humphreys

Upgrading the road network as part of a £200 million scheme is the “biggest decision for transport in North Wales in a generation”.

As Flintshire Council published its view that the ‘red route’ should be adopted as part of Welsh Government proposals to improve the Deeside Corridor, a committee of councillors were told they faced a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to upgrade the network.

In a document released ahead of the council’s environment overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Friday, the council laid out why it prefers the red route.

They added, however, that some elements of the ‘blue route’ should also be included in the scheme.

The blue route involves widening the A55/A494 route, including three lanes in each direction.

The red route involves a new road between the A55 and A458 via the Flintshire Bridge and a new junction to join the A55 near Northop/Flint Mountain.

Laying out the proposals to members, Steve Jones, chief officer for Streetscene and transportation, said: “This is a Welsh Government document but we are a key stakeholder so it is important we provide a response.

“Congestion is continually a problem for national and local Flintshire networks and is a regular event.

“This is important to the North Wales economy.”

He added: “This is the biggest decision for transport across this county and North Wales in a generation.

“It is important that it is not just restricted to the red route or the blue route, we have to take things from both.

“It is a once in a lifetime, once in a generation opportunity to improve the network.”

Cllr Marion Bateman, Sychdyn, said she could not support the council's position that had come at “great expense” and delivered a “divisive binary choice”.

She said: “Neither of these routes alleviate the pinch points heading west on the A55.

“It’s like the consultants have drawn a line on the map and expected it to help.

“The businesses on the Deeside Industrial Park support the blue route so the red route can’t be the economic panacea it’s being said as.”

Cllr Bateman also called for further studies in to a third option, a proposed “Green route” put forward by Northop Community Council.

“Both of these routes will change local landscapes,” she said.

“This profligates extravagant solutions to a relatively small problem.”

Cllr Vicky Perfect was equally as scathing about the proposal.

She said: “Under Clwyd, the red route was rejected and this just looks like a child has gone wild with a red pen while their dad has nipped off to answer the door.”

Cllr Perfect added that those in favour of the route could struggle to link the Flintshire Bridge to the A55 and wanted to turn the area into the “Spaghetti Junction capital of Wales”.

The Flint Trelawny ward member also said the route “blazes a meandering trail through wonderful countryside”.

Mr Jones said the Flintshire Bridge would become a “national asset” as part of the scheme and admitted the bridge was currently “clearly underused”.

Cllr Paul Shotton, Connah's Quay Golftyn, supported the council's view.

He said: “There is evident consensus in greater Deeside for the red route.

“It would give greater access for Deeside Industrial Park which we all want and would direct tourist traffic over the Flintshire Bridge and HGVs.

“There would be less disruption and remove maintenance risk from this council.

“We've lost two decades since the last consultation on this so let's be bold and support the red route.”

Cllr Veronica Gay urged caution over the routes and linked it to a recent disagreement with Welsh Government over skip sites.

“We had a Welsh Government recommendation on waste sites which we rejected, it was flawed,” she said.

“We had an option there which was put forward by this council and accepted.

“There is something else to be explored here and this is a large, life changing thing for future generations.

“We should look at this and if we get it wrong, we're damned.”

Councillors moved in favour of supporting the officers' recommendations of supporting the red route which will be put to the council's cabinet tomorrow.

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