Chisholm Trail Is Go! (nearly)

The Chisholm Trail has passed the first major hurdle, being recommended by the Greater Cambridge City Deal Assembly for funding, public consultation and a planning application over the next few months. Of course, as with so many publications (even ones that only come out every two months), major decisions do seem to occur between the publication ‘going to bed’, and hitting the streets. So as I write this we cannot be certain that the Greater Cambridge City Deal Board will ‘rubber stamp’ the Assembly’s recommendation. I will assume it does!

There will then be leases over land to be negotiated, especially with Network Rail, Gonville & Caius College (Ditton Meadows), Cambridge Past, Present and Future, and even the city council. The public consultation, proposed for the autumn, will not be straightforward. Some groups will feel disadvantaged, and it will be crucial to ensure that schools, colleges and businesses – who will be big beneficiaries of the improved sustainable transport links – put forward a good case for the facilities.

The project report by consultant John Grimshaw (founder of Sustrans), and the officer report to the Assembly are at camcycle.org.uk/jumpto/chisholmtrailreportC and camcycle.org.uk/jumpto/chisholmtrailreportOF

Some sections over green space will not meet the ideal standards, but a minimum width of 3.5m should be achievable, except at a couple of pinch-points. Along the rail corridor near Mill Road Bridge there are opportunities for a well-separated footway and cycle route with informal green space including trees. Can we dig up existing excessive tarmac in one place and use it for a sub-base in another, with removed soil returning to green-over a formerly impervious surface?

I’ve always known that there would be pinch-points near the spare arches beneath Mill Road Bridge. It is the use of those spare arches that can make north-south trips so much more pleasant, as it will provide good routes avoiding major road crossings at congested junctions. It appears that, apart from a couple of short shared-use sections of around 3m effective width, a good standard route should be achievable with a lease from Network Rail. At the pinch-point, the only alternative option would incur the vast expense of moving rail tracks and associated overhead electrification masts.

Watch out for a longer article in your next newsletter.

Jim Chisholm