Around twenty-five years ago the combined forces of common sense and public opinion saw off the prospect of a direct link between the A36 and A46. It would have meant spoiling the northern end of the Avon/Limpley Stoke valley, greatly increased traffic, and even more damage to the A36 as it winds its way southwards along the western slope. It was to have been part of a package that included improvements to the southern end of the A46, a two-level interchange where the A4 meets the A46, and the Batheaston bypass. The project was the subject of a public enquiry. Almost all parts were built but the inspector ruled against the leap across the valley to the A36 and the then Department for Transport accepted his ruling.
But it has never really gone away. There are those who believe that a direct link between the A36 and A46 would relieve congestion and pollution in Bath. In recent months the MPs for both Bath and North East Somerset, Ben Howlett and Jacob Rees-Mogg, have been pressing the government for funds to build it. The Avon Valley Action group (AVA) is campaigning to reveal the weaknesses in the arguments for the link, and the irreparable damage it would do.
Any link would have the status of a trunk road, owned and managed by Highways England (HE), until recently the Highways Agency. HE’s construction programme of works for 2015 to 2020 has been set some time ago and does not include a link between the A36 and A46. They are currently drawing up what is called their Route Investment Strategy (RIS) for 2020 to 2025. What will be included for discussion hasn’t been decided – and AVA is determined that should an A36/A46 link be included, the many very good reasons against it will be heard..
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