Published: 17:00, 31 May 2013
One of the county's biggest motoring headaches could soon be cured after the Department for Transport approved £1.56 million of funding for improvements.
It is also hoped that the road system, planned close to Westwood Cross, near Broadstairs, will help create up to 5,000 jobs as businesses take advantage of it to expand and relocate. The project is to widen Poorhole Lane and build roundabout at each end.
In the bid submitted to the DfT, Bryan Sweetland, Kent County Council member for highways, said that he hopes the scheme, known as the Westwood Relief Strategy, “will address severe congestion at the main intersection of roads across Thanet”.
He said the current bottleneck has an “adverse impact on accessibility in Thanet and directly impedes growth in Westwood itself.”
The report claims that road widening could lead to thousands of new jobs, as it would aid expansion of the EuroKent Business Park, as well as the construction of 550 new homes.
The bid warns: “Without the £1.56 million of Local Pinch Point investment, the unemployment rate and deprivation of Thanet cannot be reduced.”
A traffic survey found that at peak times and on Saturdays, severe congestion leads to “extremely long delays and unreliable journey times”.
Delays of “more than 161 seconds per vehicle” cause considerable concern and the Westwood roundabout is significantly over capacity. Plans to widen Westwood Road up to the roundabout were discussed, but this was seen as a short-term and ineffective solution.
The Poorhole Lane “radical change” alternative should remove traffic for local roads and Margate, and filter traffic for Westwood Cross.
As well as the proposed link road, the Sainsbury’s supermarket expansion and the planned 1,020 Gleeson Homes development will see additional road creation, which are being designed to help minimise congestion.
Thanet council has shown its support for the scheme, that is due to be completed by December 2014.
Cllr David Green (Lab), Thanet council cabinet member for housing and planning services, said: “Securing this funding is a key part of the overall strategy for improving the traffic flow, which will support and enable future growth, and we hope will provide a benefit to residents and businesses right across Thanet.”
South Thanet MP Laura Sandys said: “The roads around Westwood Cross are regularly severely congested. I very much hope the relief strategy will provide a little welcome relief for local residents. I will be urging the council to continue to look at ways in which the increasing traffic at Westwood Cross can be better managed.”
The funding came after Kent County Council applied to the government’s Local Pinch Point Fund, a £170 million pot offered to councils wanting to increase traffic flow in specific areas.