'Land bridge' over A63 Castle Street in Hull city centre to be raised with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin
AMBITIOUS proposals have been unveiled to create a "land bridge" over the A63 at Castle Street.
The idea of creating an improved pedestrian route between the city centre and Hull Marina and the old Fruit Market has been mooted before.
But city leaders now believe the best way to provide a safe crossing point over Hull's busiest road would be to extend long-term plans to lower Castle Street and construct a pedestrian link between Princes Dock Street and the marina.
Senior council figures and the city's three MPs are scheduled to meet Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to discuss the proposal.
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They aim to persuade Mr McLoughlin to include the land bridge scheme with the long-awaited £168m upgrade of the nearby Mytongate junction on the A63.
Councillor Martin Mancey, cabinet member for transport, said: "The Mytongate improvement scheme proposes lowering Castle Street to allow traffic between Ferensway and the Marina to cross above.
"We think it would make sense to extend the section of Castle Street being lowered to allow a separate land bridge to be constructed further along."
Cllr Mancey said the scale of the project meant it was totally reliant on Government funding.
He said: "Ministers are starting to talk about the need for big infrastructure schemes to get off the ground to boost the economy.
"We believe we have one here that would fit the bill."
Improving pedestrian access to the marina area has been talked about for more than a decade.
A previous proposal to install a footbridge in the same area now under discussion was refused by planning councillors amid concerns over safety and the design of the structure.
Cllr Mancey said the imminent arrival for former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine in Hull, to work on a review of ways to improve the city's economy, could help speed up the decision to release Whitehall funding for the A63 upgrade.
He said: "I see Lord Heseltine's presence here as an asset.
"He is someone who can go back down to London and open the right doors for something like this."
The Mytongate scheme is currently pencilled in to get under way in 2015 but the final green light will depend on the outcome of the Government's next Comprehensive Spending Review.
Cllr Mancey said consultants were continuing to work on the upgrade on behalf of the Highways Agency after a period of uncertainty over its progress.
Next week's meeting follows two cancelled meetings between Hull MPs and Transport Minister Stephen Hammond late last year.
Dr Ian Kelly, chief executive of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said: "The proposed scheme to upgrade Castle Street is of vital importance, strategically, to Hull and the north of England.
"With the proposed Siemens development, it is vital that this happens soon."