S'bridge looking West

1. Traffic Flow

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

6 replies
  1. John Edwards
    John Edwards says:

    For a campaign group that is trying to focus on waiting for all the information to be published you appear to be making some very presumptive statements which don’t appear to be backed up by any evidence. Could you confirm your source that states that the through traffic is now 40%

    • Best4Chichester
      Best4Chichester says:

      You are quite right that we should all be very careful about misleading statements based on lack of evidence.

      You ask where the figure of 40% for estimated through traffic on the A27 comes from. For many years some have believed the previous estimate of ten years ago of 20% to be far too low, so an amateur group of us carried out a survey amongst ourselves, consisting of many frequent users of the road, estimating as they travelled at various times along the A27. Our general conclusion was that the proportion of through traffic is of the order of 40%.

      If this is not the case, and the value is in fact still 20%, as you seem to imply, then presumably Highways England will have taken this into account. If so, this will count against any proposal for a northern route, as, if this figure is accepted by them, the cost of a bypass for so small a percentage of through traffic would be unwarranted. We stick by our figures and believe them to be honest and moderate.

  2. James Smith
    James Smith says:

    The statements regarding WSCC needing to fund the existing road are not suggesting it would fall in to disrepair but are suggesting that there would be no funds to upgrade the roundabouts which WILL need upgrading in the next 10 years EVEN WITH a new bypass.

    • Best4Chichester
      Best4Chichester says:

      As you say, all roads wear out and need maintenance, and even with the northern bypass the old A27 will eventually need money spent on it to combat routine wear. Without the through traffic flow this would be necessary at less frequent intervals. As our item tries to show, the addition of the former A27 to County from Highways England will be a tiny if not negligible proportion of the total WSCC road budget. Our point is that of all the good arguments against a northern bypass, this tiny additional increase in the West Sussex road mileage would not seem likely to prove an important factor.

    • james smith
      james smith says:

      My point was not that the road would need maintaining but that the roundabouts would need upgrading even with a new bypass. The problem is not the road but the roundabouts which as currently designed not spearing through and local traffic are over capacity

      To upgrade these is inevitable and a much more expensive job than simple maintenance which WSCC simply won’t afford

  3. james smith
    james smith says:

    I would suggest that you caveat your article to say that the 40% is based on your a amatuer studies not official data. The way it is set out in your article suggests it is HAS increased to 40%, this is a misleading statement

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