Realigning the A29 is ‘vital’ for Bognor Regis several councillors have argued as plans to scrap funding for the project were defeated.
The West Sussex County Council scheme will see a new 4.3km stretch of road to the east of Eastergate, Westergate and Woodgate villages.
Several large-scale housing developments are proposed within the Arun district local plan.
A Labour amendment to the county council’s capital programme on Friday proposed reallocating £12m earmarked for the A29 realignment and instead spending £7m on property investment and £5m on road safety to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSIs) on West Sussex roads.
Cllr Michael Jones, Labour’s group leader, said there was a ‘serious lack of resources to undertake any meaningful projects’ to reduce KSIs, with 483 in 2018 alone. He felt the money for the realignment scheme was ‘just to facilitate Arun’s unpopular local plan’ and questioned the minimal reduction in average journey times.
Cllr Jones added: “Surely if there’s money to be spent on highways projects it should be prioritising safety before we embark on grant projects with very few discernible benefits for the local people.”
However, the need for the A29 realignment scheme was voiced by several councillors at Friday’s meeting.
David Edwards, Conservative county councillor for Bersted, said: “This is a vital link for tourism and businesses for Bognor Regis. I think it does need to be looked at as I’m not very happy with the alignment, but fundamentally that road has to happen.”
Lib Dem Cllr Francis Oppler, Bognor Regis East’s representative, added: “Bognor Regis desperately needs the A29 improving but the realignment does need looking at.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Roger Elkins, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, highlighted the significant sums from other sources the county council had secured towards the A29 project which would be lost if the council pulled out its cash.
“This is a significant improvement in that area coming out of Bognor Regis with access over the railway line,” he said.
Cllr Jones’ budget amendment was defeated.
Plans for phase one of the A29 realignment and an environmental impact assessment should soon be submitted by the county council.
This is the northern section from the A29 just south of Eastergate Lane to a new junction with Barnham Road. The second phase will be from Barnham Road to a new junction with the A29 south of the Lidsey bends to bypass the level crossing.