Monday, March 30, 2009

It ain't over...

Rumours of our demise have been greatly exaggerated! Yes, we spoke far too soon. But even we were taken aback by the news today that the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) have decided to intervene in the Bypass funding problems by coming up with a scheme of their own, no doubt with Roy Oldham throwing his weight around, using all the various kinds of 'influence' he commands. The news was published today in the Manchester Evening News, and the story can be read here.

What's new is that there would seem to be a suggestion that there are advanced plans for what's described as an 'alternative alignment' - i.e. a different route that would be ready for submission 'within a few months'. Could it be the case that the Highways Agency have been helping to model this route for months, whilst telling everyone else they were working on the current plans before the Public Inquiry? 

You may remember that at the Hoongate meeting last November, Hoon himself had suggested detrunking the A628, and also finding a new alignment. According to the minutes, James Purnell was wary since an alternative route would "hug the conurbations" - code for bringing it very close to a lot of people's houses.

Under such a plan, it's possible that even pro-bypass folk would have far more cause for concern than at present. We're busily trying to locate details of the alternative routes put before the public way back in time, but this website has details of a possible extension of the M67 mooted a long time ago, and on another page a possible route that Purnell may have been alluding to that saw the road slice through Hadfield. 

'Detrunking' means the Highways Agency would no longer be responsible for the road, and therefore their costing models for construction won't apply in the drawing up of plans for a newer bypass. It seems clear that the pro-bypass local authorities are using this as a possible method for a bypass on the cheap.

But what puzzles us is the nature of this plan. The MEN story tells us that Sir Howard Bernstein announced it at the AGMA Executive meeting last Friday - but there are no details on the agenda, nor in the supporting documents for said meeting. Is it pie in the sky? Only time will tell, but it seems for now that the fight against the road is still on, the fat lady has not yet sung...

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