The A428 - a busway too far?
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is pressing ahead with plans for the Chisholm cycling trail across the City. I saw where it will cross the Cam when I was out rowing early Saturday.
And there are plans for GCP “travel hubs” at Whittlesford, Foxton and Hauxton. The plans for the A1307 transport route to the south-east of Cambridge seem to be progressing.
But the latest A428 busway proposals running out from Cambridge to Cambourne? Still not quite ready, and now unlikely to see the light of day until the end of the year according to the latest from the GCP.
In May 2018 the proposals - which proved deeply unpopular with villages to the west of the City - were paused by the incoming LibDem administration at South Cambridgeshire.
At that point Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, who is now chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Board declared “I have a mandate to demand a rethink of the plans on the A428 corridor…”
A month later, the Mayor James Palmer also called for a pause.
Now, over a year later from those two interventions, that rethink is still being worked on and the schedule for bringing the plans to the GCP Board at the end of the year is being pushed back.
For some this will be welcome news, especially residents of the villages who oppose the off-road scheme.
So who is deciding that the plans stay on ice and under wraps? Is it that the numbers still don’t stack up and the business case won’t pass muster? Or is it that having pushed through the unpopular Hauxton/Harston A10 Park n’ride in July, the GCP Board - and perhaps South Cambs District Council - doesn’t want to risk more unrest in its villages to the west by pushing through a second controversial scheme.
In the past I have argued for a temporary on-road scheme on the A428 to be built while the wider strategy is decided. Because you might as well have something to show for your buck, rather than a dusty filing cabinet of what the French call “grand projets”. We need a busway that respects the countryside but also gets on and delivers transport for Cambourne.
The delay comes just as the GCP gets its homework marked by Whitehall, with what’s called a gateway review taking place in the autumn. The men from the ministry would be expecting to hear of progress, not more delay.
Is the A428 simply a busway with too much baggage?