Nottinghamshire's transport chief says demand for a fourth River Trent crossing is 'definitely there' after the Government recently said it was looking into the project. Campaigners have been calling for the bridge to be built for decades, but the issue came to a head in February 2020 when the closure of Clifton Bridge eastbound for emergency repairs caused journey times to be lengthened by hours.
The issue came up at a recent Westminster Hall debate on Nottinghamshire transport led by the Gedling MP Tom Randall. A Department for Transport minister at the time said that she 'recognised the points made' about the need for a fourth crossing.
Councillor Neil Clarke, cabinet member for transport and environment at Nottinghamshire County Council, now said that he hopes to see progress on plans for the project. He said: "I have to say that the debate comes and goes and it's in peaks and troughs all the time. I've been involved in discussions about it for probably 25 years or more.
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"But the demand is definitely there, the issue is where the funding comes from because it is a major investment and that is an ongoing discussion. It's going to be a long road to go down in order to see if we can persuade the Government to make such a major investment."
The last bridge to open over the River Trent was the Clifton Bridge in 1958, though plans for a pedestrian and cycle bridge are progressing. Nottingham City Council has agreed costs with landowners for the project, which would connect Lady Bay to the Trent Basin waterside housing estate, with a planning application due to be submitted early this year.
Various locations have been proposed for the fourth crossing that would be open to all traffic, with a bridge at Radcliffe being recommended in 2004, Gedling Borough Council proposing Holme Pierrepont in 2014 and previous county council leader Kay Cutts suggesting Gunthorpe. More recently, in the Westminster Hall debate, Tom Randall said that the bridge would "complement" the existing Gedling Access Road if it was built in Colwick.
Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at the East Midlands Chamber, said that decisions on issues such as the fourth Trent crossing needed to be made quicker. He said: "Generally speaking, we need to speed up how quickly these decisions are taken because these are not new discussions.
"I think getting local Government to move quicker in the decision-making process is really important." But Mr Hobson added that there were other key projects that needed to be prioritised during early 2023.
He said: "Getting more progress on the Broad Marsh is so important and the fact that this is a piece of work we are already thinking about puts Nottingham at an advantage I think. We need to sort out Nottingham Castle, too, because the difficulties that has had as an attraction in 2022 has been really disappointing."
But addressing the importance of a potential fourth Trent bridge, Cllr Clarke said: "It would help access for businesses quite considerably. The big issue is the location, which seems to change each time the debate comes and goes. I don't have a specific view as to what the best location might be, it's about whatever can be delivered in the most practical and value-for-money way."
Katherine Fletcher, then transport minister but since succeeded by Richard Holden, said at the end of October's debate: "A number of members mentioned the fourth Trent crossing - as someone who has got stuck in Nottingham when traffic grinds to a halt, I recognise the points they made.
"The proposal is in its embryonic days, but perhaps I can write to members with the routes and the opportunities there are to build an investment case locally and get that on to the Department for Transport's slate." The Department for Transport says that it would be up to the local highway authority, Nottinghamshire County Council, as to whether it wants to pursue development and design work.
The department also says that the development of a business case would be a matter for the county council. In terms of funding, the department says Nottingham and Derby received £169 million through the transforming cities fund and that Nottinghamshire receives over £18 million a year for road maintenance and smaller projects.
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