Best4Chichester is concerned at some of the more misleading information being circulated with regard to the proposed improvements to the traffic flow around our City. In the next few weeks we shall be posting a series of articles entitled ‘What’s It About?’ dealing with some of the key topics. This is the first.
The traffic around our City has been worsening for many years. For long and frequent periods, particularly in the summer months and Bank Holidays, and especially when there are major events at Goodwood, congestion is severe, and many people to the south and east of the road are cut off over large parts of the day from Chichester and places beyond .
The existing road, designed with a capacity for about 28000 vehicles a day in 1998, currently operates at an average volume of more than 46000 vehicles daily over its busiest section. The root of the problem is that that we have no proper by-pass, and the A27 is required to carry both through and local traffic along the same carriageway with no separation. In the past, with lower volumes of traffic, and a lower proportion of through traffic than today, the A27 just about coped. But now for much of the time it does not.
Today the situation has changed: through traffic has increased from 20% ten years ago to 40% today and thus the proportion of local traffic has decreased from 80% to 60%. At the same time, the total volume has increased and thus the two traffic streams are interfering with each other to a greater degree than before.
What does this mean?
- While the various options proposed by Highways England have not been officially released, some maps purporting to show them have been reported in the local press. So far as can be determined from these maps, none of the options involving the upgrade of the existing road will properly separate through traffic and local users. Moreover, road users will be subjected to even more misery for the estimated 42 months while the works are undertaken. For some this could critical as the ability of ambulances to get to and from emergencies and hospitals is bound to be adversely affected.
- Even after the chaos of the upgrade work, local residents forced to use the improved A27, seem certain to have restricted access, particularly from the south. And the Oving crossing will certainly be closed for good.
- Whatever solution is adopted, local and through traffic must be properly separated and residents once again be able to enjoy assured access to and from the City and other destinations. It should also provide large benefits and time savings for local businesses.
- In addition, the chosen route should reduce the traffic in the City itself, avoiding drivers having to cross the centre to access the through route, and should also provide quicker access to the events at Goodwood and avoid the current jams that occur on the existing road on those occasions.
- If a northern bypass were to be built, the responsibility for the maintenance of the declassified A27 (A259?) would devolve to West Sussex Highways from Highways England. There is nonsense going round that the County authority would have no funds to maintain it, and the road would quickly fall into disrepair. The fact is that WSCC already looks after 2450 miles of roads in the County; re-designation of the southern section would equate to 6 miles of road i.e. equivalent to 12 miles of added maintenance as it is a dual carriageway. Against this, West Sussex County Council would lose the responsibility of maintenance of the 2 miles or so of Lavant Straight. So the extra road maintenance falling to the County will be an additional ten miles in nearly 2500 – equating to less than half of one per cent of their liabilities, a tiny and trivial increase.
Best4Chichester welcomes the up-grading of the A27 and believes it should be done promptly and in a way that benefits the majority of the users. Highways England has a brief to improve the east /west flow round Chichester. Best4 Chichester believes that should not come as a cost to the southern residents who use it daily and have no other way of getting to and from Chichester and beyond.
The next ‘What’s It About’ will cover the question of any new housing building implicit in the various options