Every Whittlesey resident knows that the King’s Dyke rail crossing is literally a barrier in and out of Whittlesey as well as the Fens
Which is why I am pleased to see the first phase of us solving this royal headache has finished and means over the summer we can get on to draw up detailed plans and funding for the £15 million scheme.
Also Councils from Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Rutland have agreed a £3 million investment in the project to help towards the cost. This was agreed at a meeting of the Shadow Local Transport Body with the funding coming from the Government's devolved Major Schemes Funding pot. Government are devolving £14m to the Local Transport Body to support the delivery of priority local schemes across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Rutland and King's Dyke was one of three Cambridgeshire schemes to receive a share of the money.
For years the local Councillors of Whittlesey have been campaigning for the improvements and it has been a long term goal for the County Council. This year we, together with Fenland District Council and Whittlesey Town Council, kicked off the first phase of works to make the improvements a reality. This was the production of a feasibility study to secure the necessary funding. It concluded there is a strong economic case for a replacement bridge. I know this is something every driver who has been trapped in this purgatory of queuing knows - but we need it in black and white for the scheme funding.
The level crossing has long been an issue locally due to the downtime of the barriers and the subsequent delay caused to traffic travelling to and from Peterborough through the town. The problem is made worse in the winter months when the B1040 – an alternative route in and out of Peterborough – is closed due to flooding. Worryingly the projected increase in rail traffic along this stretch of the Ely to Peterborough line, will no doubt result in the barriers being down for even longer each hour.
What is also pleasing is the way local councils have come together to push this forward. We have all seen Councils play the blame game, especially in these times of little money – it’s not uncommon to see councils say it’s not us- it’s the Government, rail operator, landlord…or other council that need to sort it out. What we have seen with Kings Dyke, and indeed other projects around the County is a real sense of working together to move Cambridgeshire forwards.
We are here to serve the communities that elected us. Some things are difficult or impossible to achieve but others we can do and it does no one any good for us to sit on our hands and say it is someone else’s responsibility.
I look forward to seeing the opening of a bridge over King's Dyke in a few years.
The initial feasibility study can be found here.