The biggest employer across the Chichester and Bognor Regis areas is backing Option 2 of the Chichester Bypass Improvement Scheme.
West Sussex Growers Association, which employs more than 8,000 full-time workers, says the most expensive option which proposes a new Stockbridge link road is the ‘only option’ which could solve the city’s long-standing traffic problems.
Many of the association’s growers are based south of the A27 and generate more than 1,000 goods vehicle movements and 400 tractor movements, almost all of which use the A27.
The group is the first major organisation to come out in support of an option since the ten-week public consultations began last week.
Its growers supply to supermarkets, garden centres and retailers all over the UK, and say the daily congestion on the bypass is causing ‘serious delays to the daily transport of fresh produce from the Chichester area’.
In a statement sent to Highways England, the project managers, as well as MP Andrew Tyrie, West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council, John Hall from the association said: “We have considered at length the current five options that have been put forward by Highways England and have concluded the following:
“Option 2 is the only option that improves capacity, journey times, road safety and decreases congestion and environmental impacts.
“The proposed new Stockbridge link road will improve the flow of local traffic to the south of the A27 and the diversion of Vinnetrow Road onto a new roundabout on the A259 will also improve matters.”
The statement added that all the other options would ‘offer minimal improvement overall’.
Option 2 is the most expensive of the five, costing an estimates £280m. It would also be the joint longest to complete, at 41 months, the same as Option 1.
Option 2 proposes to cut off access to the A27 at both the Stockbridge and Whyke junctions, which would both get new flyovers taking the A286 and B2145 respectively over the A27 and into Chichester.
It means that all traffic accessing the A27 from the Manhood Peninsula would use the new Stockbridge link road and join the A27 at the Fishbourne Roundabout, which would be changes so the A27 would be elevated over the roundabout.
Like the Observer, Mr Hall was given an assurance by Highways England officials at yesterday’s first public exhibition, that the new link road and Fishbourne Roundabout could cope with all the traffic from the south.
But he added that he had wanted to see options for a northern bypass – which were controversially dropped in May – at the consultations.
With all of the five options now being considered focussing on upgrading the existing route, Mr Hall said the work would cause disruption for everybody while it was taking place.