Car journeys could take 25 per cent longer unless congestion problems are tackled now

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Traffic in Northamptonshire could grind to a halt in the next few years, a senior councillor has warned.

During a meeting of Northamptonshire County Council politicians discussed long-term transport plans for the county, which is the fastest growing area in England.

Officials warned journey times across the county could take up to 25 per cent longer in the future because of its growing population.

Cabinet member for growth Cllr Ben Smith said: “If we’re going to have 100,000 extra people in this county by 2016, I have real concern that everything will eventually grind to a halt unless we get the proper infrastructure in place.

“I’m not a great supporter of toll roads in this county, but it would be a good idea if we can look at ways we can improve our transport network.”

The council heard the increased number of people will lead to ‘congestion, despite planned improvements to the road network’.

It aims to tackle the problem through its Northamptonshire Transport Plan, a 15-year project to make sure the county can cope with the impacts of growth.

The report by the council’s transport and highways team said: “It will become increasingly difficult and unpredictable to move around the area.

“Modelling work has indicated added congestion will mean on average it will take 25 per cent longer to make some journeys by 2021, for example between Kettering and Corby.”

It said the areas most affected would include the A43 and A45 around Wellingborough, Rushden, Kettering and Corby.

The report added: “The principal effects of this congestion, if not tackled, will be to seriously restrict economic growth and prosperity by undermining the competitiveness of existing local businesses by affecting deliveries and business travel.”

The plan said earlier estimates had suggested the proposed growth for the north of the county would lead to a 58 per cent increase in the demand for travel between 2001 and 2021 and while the slow-down in the housing market had slowed the proposed growth, a similar level was still likely to be realised over a longer period.

The plan includes proposals to improve and promote public transport, car sharing clubs, cycle routes and information about road projects.

Work on the Corby link road project, which will create 6.5km of dual carriageway between the A6003 north of Kettering and Stanion roundabout south east of Corby, will start this summer.

The Government has allocated £110m to widen the A14 to enable the east of Kettering to be developed and to address congestion and capacity problems between junctions 7 and 9.

The council is trying to get funding for improvements to the A43 between Northampton and Kettering and for the A509 Isham bypass scheme.

Transport strategies are expected to go out to consultation in October and could be adopted by March 2013.