UNCERTAINTY remains on how Herefordshire's county city will get a new Wye crossing – on either side of the river.

The minority Conservative-run Herefordshire Council has now twice postponed agreeing a “New Road Strategy for Hereford”, first from its cabinet meeting in January to this month, and now till March 28.

Yet the council appears to have no new basis on which to make the case for either an eastern crossing, backed by the previous Independents for Herefordshire (i4H)/Green coalition, or for reviving the larger western bypass option, which the coalition cancelled in 2021.

Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman, whose constituency includes Ross-on-Wye 13 miles south of the city, says that a western bypass “is still a clear possibility”, adding: “So too is an eastern link road running from Rotherwas up to Ledbury Road.”

The new announcement that Herefordshire will get nearly £102 million from the government’s new Local Transport Fund could make either option more achievable.

Herefordshire Council leader Coun Jonathan Lester said: “A Hereford bypass has been under discussion for decades and the overwhelming message from residents and businesses is the need to just get on with it.”

The promised road strategy will address a lack of transport infrastructure which “has held back growth, prevented new housing and caused traffic misery for too long”, he added.

The most recent study into costs of such a project, produced by engineering consultants AECOM just before Christmas, will “allow the cabinet to make an informed decision with the assistance of impartial expert advice”, the council said.

But the AECOM study is far from a ringing endorsement of either bypass option. It said the two best options for an eastern crossing would cost £145-200 million, with a bridge alone costing £30-51 million. The work would not be complete before 2031.

Cabinet member for transport Coun Philip Price said this showed the eastern option “can no longer be viewed as a low-cost alternative to the western bypass”.

But the AECOM report rated a western bypass as a worse option, at least as an alternative to meeting the goals of the eastern crossing, ranking it 10th out of the 18 scenarios it considered.

It “would also have a number of adverse environmental impacts, with a larger amount of land take required”, AECOM said, adding it would “take up to 10 years to be delivered” with previous preparatory work now outdated.

Former council leader Coun David Hitchiner of i4H also writes this week saying: “The eastern option is deliverable in a quicker time scale and at a much lower cost.

“Once this has been secured the council can look again at the value of grander schemes.”