Government’s surprise announcement means major £150m Catthorpe works will go ahead sooner

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FUNDING of £150 million has finally been announced by the government to improve the notorious Catthorpe Interchange.

It’s the news the town has long been waiting for and after initially being told that the project would be put on hold until after 2015, it was a welcome surprise when the government announced that it would bring forward the £150 million investment to improving the accident blackspot.

Cllr Craig Humphrey, leader of Rugby Borough Council, has been part of a group of representatives from the town campaigning for improvements to the junction, which has led to dozens of accidents, serious injuries and death in recent years.

Cllr Humphrey said: “This is brilliant news. This is not only fantastic for Rugby but also for the wider region. It’s great that the project has been brought forward. The death toll there has been horrific.”

On Tuesday Roads Minister Mike Penning MP visited Catthorpe Interchange, where the M1, M6 and A14 meet to see how the money would be spent. It is part of a £1 billion of investment announced in the Autumn Statement.

The work will improve the existing junction that suffers from considerable delays and accidents due to queuing traffic, especially at peak times.

It will provide free flow links between the M6 and A14 and between the M1 and A14 over the next three years.

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey, who has also been campaigning for the investment, welcomed the news.

Mr Pawsey said: “I have received many representations from businesses about the difficulties of access at this junction. In addition, we regularly read in the local press about the many accidents that take place there often as a consequence of queuing traffic. So I am very pleased that the Department for Transport has decided to bring forward the scheduled work at Catthorpe, something that I had previously been advised would not be possible until the end of this spending review period in 2015.”

Catthorpe was one of five other road improvement schemes announced in the Autumn Statement, including work to the A45/A46 Tollbar End junction between Rugby and Coventry.

Mr Pawsey that he believes the improvements to Catthorpe will stimulate growth in the town and help free-up Rugby’s transport links.

He said: “We must not of course forget the spate of devastating accidents that have happened at this very dangerous junction, and I hope it is of some comfort to those affected that work will soon be underway.

”The next step for this scheme will be the publication of the Notice of Intention to hold a Public Inquiry in 2012/13.

We always knew that this would be the case, and whilst improvements are not scheduled to start tomorrow, I am delighted that ministers have acknowledged the importance of investing in this congested and dangerous junction.”