Panda Press

£20k for controversial ring road changes

 The controversial new traffic flow system on Christchurch Way and the resiting of the pedestrian crossing has cost taxpayers £20,000.

The figure has been revealed through a Freedom of Information request to Staffordshire County Council.

The trial arrangements have come in for some heavy criticism, with pedestrian safety and lots of other concerns raised on this site and in the letters pages of the local newspapers.

The county council says the new lane flow – introduced in February - is designed to reduce congestion and delays at peak times. It certainly created congestion and delays for motorists leaving Morrisons, so the pedestrian crossing was moved up Christchurch Way to its former location. This then created the need for a crossing on Mill Street itself.

Here are the questions asked through the Freedom of Information request and the county’s answers…

What was the reason for for the experiment of extending the traffic island at the junction of Lichfield Street / Christchurch Way?

Traffic counts illustrated an imbalance in lane usage along Christchurch Way. This was further confirmed from the receipt of numerous complaints of delays and congestion at this location.

The majority of traffic was using the left hand lane and only a small amount of traffic using the right hand lane.

Observation surveys at the time confirmed that traffic was queuing along Christchurch Way back onto A520 to its junction with Northesk Street and around town centre ring road into Crown Street.

By encouraging greater use of the right hand lane this could lead to reduced traffic congestion and delays.

What design studies have been carried out?

The following investigations have been carried out:

Option 1

Do nothing – No Change

Option 2

Left lane (Lichfield Street Only)

Right lane (A520 and A34)

With this option more traffic would be transferred to the right hand lane but public transport using the existing lay by would benefit, by being able to merge into carriageway easier.

However this could lead to poor lane discipline with traffic still using the left hand lane.

Extending the refuge would reduce the poor lane discipline, with traffic merging into appropriate lanes along Christchurch Way and ensuring that both lanes are fully optimized so increasing the flow of traffic in and around the ring road.

Option 3

Both Lanes A34 straight on

Left lane (Lichfield Street Only)

Right lane (A520)

Signage and lining could be provided to encourage drivers to use both lanes and merge into the right and left lane as required.

This option could improve lane usage and traffic flows, however in reality it would be open to abuse and possibly not improve the situation.

After consideration of Options 1-3, SCC selected Option 2 to be installed on a trial basis for approximately six months.

What consultation with interested parties has been carried out?

Due to the proposals being installed on a trial basis, there was no specific consultation carried out as data and comments would be collected through the trial period.

However the trial proposals were discussed with the County Council’s elected member and Stone Town Council.

Prior to the introduction of the trial scheme, all affected frontages i.e. Morrison’s, properties along Mill Street and High Street, Staffordshire Police and local bus companies were advised of the works.

Following introduction of the trial proposals, correspondence from Local Bus Operators, members of the Public, Morrison’s, Stone Town Council and local councillors has been collected and will be reviewed as part of the decision process.

What was the approximate cost of the trial works?

The approximate cost of build out and signing / lining works was £ 17,000

Was a road safety audit carried out before the pedestrian crossing was moved?

A road safety audit was not carried out prior to moving the pedestrian crossing due to the fact that it was being re-sited to its original position.

As part of the trial, a Stage 1 safety audit has been undertaken.

What is the approximate cost of the experimental crossing?

The approximate cost of experimental crossing is £3000

You can let the county council have your views on the trial arrangements

10 Comments

  1. So no consultation. Only discussion with the the local county councillor (who appears to be totally ignoring a mass of public opinion) and allegedly the Town Council (although I know one town councillor who first learnt of the scheme when it was installed).
    No road safety audit carried out before moving the pedestrian crossing despite the fact it involved forcing pedestrians to cross over the Mill Street junction. It is already obvious that the sheme is flawed and has been introduced and amended ‘on the hoof’. Carrying out a trial in the summer with reasonable weather and during school holidays is bound to produce an inaccurate result. Just wait until we get winter weather and the inceased traffic during the school runs in the mornings and afternoons. Then we’ll see even longer traffic jams beyond Stonefield Square and Crown Street again.
    But the most serious impact of this scheme hasn’t yet been discussed and that is the impact on the High Street. Many shoppers use Morrisons to do some shopping in th store and then pop into town for an hour. The row of temporary barricades has now created an obstacle course forcing pedestrains to the temporaray crossing. I fear that many shoppers who previously came into town will now be deterred from doing so.This crossing must be moved back as soon as possible.
    And I can think of numerous highways issues that have occurred over the years that have been ignored because of lack of funding and, yet, bingo, £20,000 has been spent just like that. Crazy!

  2. Chris

    Why cars turning up lichfield road have to even stop now is beyond me. The left turn traffic light needs removing.

    • Mr ST

      I can only agree with Richard Stevens. The new system is a pigs ear, made up as it went along to alleviate problems caused by the installation of the traffic island at the bottom of Christchurch Way in the first place. Rob Kenny’s assertion that the Town Council was not consulted is at odds with the FOI request published here. Where is the truth? I suppose that after the initial expediture of £17000, no one was prepared to put their hands up and say “fair cop, we got it wrong”.

      As for Chris’s comment about removal of the lights at the Lichfield Rd junction, he is evidently not a pedestrian!

    • I think a left filter that is on but that goes to red when the pedestrian crossing is activated is the perfect solution for this.

      Cars will free more freely and pedestrians can cross safely.

  3. Rob kenney

    The trial proposals were NOT discussed with Stone Town council.

  4. philip jones

    Of course I am not ignoring public opinion. When the unforeseen consequence of massive tailbacks exiting Morrisons emerged I called a meeting of town councillors, Morrison’s manager, the disabled access group and highways engineers and this led to the present temporary solution which the chairman of the disabled access group has described as satisfactory. However I believe, after talking to Mr Kenney and other town councillors, that the crossing in Mill St is not in an ideal position and this will have to be looked at again. Chris’s suggestion is also well worth considering bearing in mind that the crossing at the end of the High St is pedestrian controlled. Let us bear in mind that the reasons for the work were entirely reasonable and proper: to reduce traffic congestion on Christchurch Way which, at certain times of the day, had become very frustrating both for commuters and for drivers passing through our town. The County Council will continue to work to find a solution agreeable to drivers, shoppers and pedestrians.

    County Councillor, Stone

    • Mr ST

      So Cllr Jones, how will people crossing from the High Street to Lichfield Street do so safely, if the pedestrian controlled crossing is removed? As I said before I have never had any problems getting off Morrisons car-park at any time, before the change.

      So now we will have “massive tailbacks” occaisionally on the the car-park replaced by massive tailbacks up Radford Street and Longton Road up to Airedale Road every schoolday as of next week when the schools re-open after the summer holidays.

  5. “The rain and the new traffic arrangements at the bottom of Christchurch Way, which meant that the Parade couldn’t go through the High Street, both conspired to reduce the cash collections”

    This is a direct quote from the article posted on this site today announcing that Stone Festival has distributed £6,000 to worthy causes in the town.

    And that, Cllr. Jones, is why thorough and proper consultation was needed before this crazy scheme was trialled.

  6. Rob Kenney

    I
    would like to make it clear that the trial proposals were NOT discussed with the Town Council. We have only been consulted about permament proposals in recent weeks.

    Stone Town CounciIllor

  7. Stephen

    Cllr Jones – Will you please confirm if one of the options for where you say “will continue to work to find a solution agreeable to drivers, shoppers and pedestrians.” is to put it all back how it was before – I never had a problem before. What a waste of time and money.

    How on earth the situation of an unforeseen consequence of massive tailbacks exiting Morrisons wasn’t thought about I have no idea. It is so obvious this would happen.

    Also anyone with any common sense could work out that where as 2 lanes used to be able to go straight on by the Lichfield Street Junction is reduced to 1 then that lane would be busier as most people won’t be turning up Lichfield Street. I have seen even late on in the evening a queue in the right hand lane but nothing in the left.

    Now to top it off we have a situation where people who want to cross the main road have to encounter oncoming traffic entering or exiting Morrisons to get to it.

    One farce after another.

Leave a Reply