£33 million funding gap on Midlothian transport plans
A £33 million funding gap for a planned new road to relieve congestion on the A701 in Midlothian may have to be met by the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Midlothian Council unveiled its preferred route for the new road which it says could bring economic benefits of £189m. But it warned the cost for the project has risen to £55m with only £22m in funds currently available.
The local authority’s head of development Fiona Clandillion said an application was currently with the Levelling Up Fund and a decision is expected this autumn.
When asked what would happen to the project if the application failed, she told the committee the council would have to go on a “charm offensive” to stakeholders and look at its design again.
However, she added: “I am an eternal optimist.”
The committee was told six routes were considered for the new relief road and the council’s Capital Projects and Asset Management Board approved one which will stretch from Straiton to the east of Old Pentland Kirk and Cameron Wood with a new junction into the A703 and a new A702 spur road.
A report to the committee revealed that during public consultations no one route stood out and, instead, said “there was opposition to the project and any of the proposed route options”.
However the report said the new A701 relief road and A702 spur road project would allow the continued expansion of Midlothian Science Zone and the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush as well as new housing. It added: “The A701 Corridor experiences significant traffic congestion which is likely to be exacerbated as a result of the development supported by the Midlothian Local Development Plan (MLDP).
“Transport Scotland has stated that it would be unable to support further growth at the Easter Bush Campus and wider Midlothian Science Zone until the operational impacts on the trunk road network at the A702/Bush Loan junction have been resolved and acceptable mitigation measures are in place.
“To address this, the MLDP states that it is a requirement to deliver the A701 Relief Road to the west of the current A701 along with a link to the A702 in order to enable both developments at Easter Bush but also along the wider transport corridor.”
The committee agreed to note the latest developments in the project.