Council receives £6.1m to develop new transport schemes
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Swansea Council has been handed £6.1 million to develop new transport schemes including electric vehicle charging points and cycle routes.
The authority submitted bids worth £13.9 million so won’t get to build or design a number of proposed schemes.
But cabinet members said the £6.1 million allocation from the Welsh Government for 2021-22 had come earlier than usual, meaning that councillors would be able to find out shortly about projects which affected their area and have a say on their design.
In total, £3.3 million will go on cycle and shared-use path schemes, known as active travel, in 2021-22.
This includes the development of the Swansea northern strategic route between Morriston, Penllergaer and Pontarddulais. Specifically, the money will pay for a new shared-use path adjacent to Clasemont Road, Morriston, between the recently completed A48 link and the DVLA.
It will also fund design work, namely for a Penllergaer to Gorseinon shared-use path, a link connecting Tidal Reach on one side of Pontarddulais to Pentre Road on the other, and a link from Station Road, Grovesend, up to Pontarddulais.
It will create improved city centre links, namely the completion of the new Townhill link to Carmarthen Road and funding to design a shared-use path through Penllergare Valley Woods to connect Penllergaer with Fforestfach.
It will also fund improved Swansea Valley links, namely more provision east of the River Tawe at Morriston, plus a new shared-use path adjacent to Jersey Road in Winch Wen.
In addition, design work will be carried out for a route adjacent to Upper Fforest Way, in Swansea Enterprise Park, and for a route on the eastern edge of Morriston.
The final element of the £3.3 million will pay for the promotion of the active travel network, a further roll-out of “share with care” signs, cycle counters, and design work for future schemes including an Uplands to city centre route on Sketty Road and Walter Road, options for off-road provision on Pont Y Cob Road, Gowerton, and a shared-use path along Clyne Common.
Before he announced the funding at a cabinet meeting on April 15, Cllr Mark Thomas was pressed by Penllergaer councillor Wendy Fitzgerald about the proposed Gorseinon to Penllergaer shared-use path along Gorseinon Road.
Cllr Fitzgerald said everyone who had got in touch with her opposed this scheme because they feared they would not be able to park on the south side of Gorseinon Road if it was built.
“It (the road) is extremely busy – it’s the link to junction 47 of the M4,” she said.
“We are not talking about a quiet residential street.”
Cllr Thomas said he was very familiar with Gorseinon Road, and that active travel routes were not designed for quiet residential streets but main transport routes connecting communities.
The whole idea, he said, was to encourage people to use bikes where possible.
“Our active travel ambition is not about nice little routes for people to cycle along, although it’s part of that – our aim is for a ‘modal shift’ to get people out of their cars,” said Cllr Thomas.
He said he appreciated that Gorseinon Road residents would be affected, but encouraged them and Cllr Fitzgerald to come forward with suggestions as the design work continued.
“There will be ample opportunity for residents, ward councillors and community groups to have their say in the design and roll-out of these schemes,” said Cllr Thomas.
The remaining part of the £6.1 million from the Welsh Government will pay for 44 electric vehicle charging points in 15 locations in Swansea, plus a further 25 in two new car parks being built near the city centre.
There is also cash to improve the busy Dyfatty interchange for bus passengers, and to create a new shared-use path adjacent to Dyfatty Street.
In addition, the business case for bus interchanges in Morriston and Mumbles, and also a South West Wales Metro system across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, will be taken forward.
Speaking after the meeting, Stuart Davies, the council’s head of highways and transportation, said: “The increase in electric charging infrastructure for motorists either already using electric cars or thinking of purchasing one is vital as we move into an era where electric cars are increasing.”