The Polegate and Lewes MP has spoken out against plans for a new offline dual carriageway between Lewes and Polegate – saying she now believes the existing A27 should be improved with dualling where possible.
Maria Caulfield expressed her views at a public meeting in Selmeston last week.
In an email to SCATE, the South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment, Ms Caulfield said, “I have made clear I would like to see any funding to dual the existing road and improve access for all road users and not for a new road as some in Eastbourne would like.”
But she said to this newspaper, “I have not had a rethink. I fully support improving the A27 and want to see it as a dual carriageway.
“It is why I support the funding bid of £450 million to improve the vital link between Lewes and Polegate which is currently a busy, congested and dangerous road. The funding would see improvements for all road users and should have been done decades ago.”
In 2017 the MP, along with former Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell, worked with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling who agreed to spend up to £3 million on further studies on an offline expressway.
Liam Russell, Chairman of SCATE East Sussex, said, “Mrs Caulfield’s support for a re-think of the Highways England plans is most welcome.
“At our meeting we were able to demonstrate the biggest problem with the existing A27 is the congestion caused by queuing to get off it, rather than the road itself. The Highways England proposals will not resolve this.”
Mr Russell said, “We are calling for a rethink, with improved rail and bus services as well as some dualling and modest improvements to the existing road, including the junctions at both ends, which we are sure will be a better solution than spending many hundreds of millions on a new dual carriageway through a treasured landscape.”
The new report, taking into account future developments in Wealden, is now with the Department of Transport for a decision before the end of this year.
Though the business case and preferred corridor remain confidential, SCATE says Highways England has confirmed an upper price estimate of £528m.