It was the long-awaited improvement to Carlisle's traffic problem. And now, it seems that the Northern Development Route is making a noticeable difference.
Opened in February 2012, the 5.13 mile road certainly was not cheap: £176m to be precise. It is, essentially, a partial ring road linking the north of the city to the west. The aim was to reduce traffic going through the city centre, especially heavy goods vehicles, and cut journey times. The council says it has worked, with 'before and after' road surveys finding that:
- More than 10,000 vehicles a day now use the new road.
- 16% less traffic on Carlisle's busiest road (Castle Way) and 41% fewer HGVs.
- Similar reductions elsewhere: 16% less traffic and 32% fewer HGVs on Stanwix Bank (A7).
The council are warning that the figures can be influenced by a wide range of factors, ranging from the weather to what's on the television and will carry out further traffic studies later this year.
There have also been criticisms from some locals about a huge increase in traffic on some radial routes that link to the new road, something that will also be looked at by the council.
But rather than a simple cut in city traffic, it's the economic benefits many are keen to focus on.
– Councillor Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council
"Carlisle has embraced its new major road. Both commuters and industry in North Cumbria have quickly adjusted their travelling habits to get the full benefits from CNDR. This project has been a huge investment for the county council and one which will reap rewards for many years to come in terms of economic and environmental payback."