Wigan traffic engineer: Parliamentary disinterest

This is my response to a letter from my MP, arising from my emails to the secretaries of state for communities and for transport

Dear Yvonne,

Thank You for your expressed concern and stated wish to hear any comments that I may wish to offer.

For your benefit I have scanned the documents into “Word” and numbered the lines.

We are, of course all aware of the information, up to line29.

I offer one trivial criticism reference line 21.

The signage indicating, to traffic in Platt Street, that there is a road closure is not obvious. At present, we have vehicles entering Millers Lane and then wondering how to gain further access.

I’m not requesting any action on this:  I just mention it as an example of the deep thought and concern being applied.

If you check pictures on my blog, you will find that the same depth of thought and concern has necessitated two further improvisations of the blockade.

The “turning demand”, referred to in line 36, may not be reduced by as much  as hoped.

Traffic from the wider estate will want access to the ATM at the Late Shop in New Street and, when term time begins, access to the school at the top of New Street.

Line 38 does give me new information and I have sent a FOI request for details to check the relevance of it.

I am especially concerned as I both my wife and I have had several stressful situations at the Sherwood Way egress, none at the Millers Lane exit and I predict that this new enforced route will increase the number of incidents.

Line 39 points out that the legal necessities were observed in the letter of the law, if not its spirit .

The reference to a consultation process is galling and shows a misunderstanding of the word “consultation”.

It may well be problematic to consult with each individual user (line42) but The Council uses our money to hype their perceived achievements and less significant actions within the magazine Borough Life.

Surely it’s not unreasonable to ask that details, with maps etc. such as that showing the proposed changes, under this new Strategic Network plan, be presented to the people concerned through this medium.

This act of bravery would be much more relevant than the on-line questionnaire, (misnamed Wigan on the move) which basically encourages people to agree with Council plans.

Line 45 is an expression of hope rather than actuality.

My experience is that the rush hour traffic, moving along the A573, is too unforgiving, which is why I prefer to exit at Millers Lane, where traffic is forced to slow by buses forcing their way back into traffic and by pedestrians using the pelican crossing.

It also has the advantage of a long, clear line of sight view of traffic gaps , created by Lily Lane lights. (reference here to line 93)

*Please note that these observations are based on actual experience rather than suppositions based on “models” and theories of traffic movement.

Lines 48 to 53 once more ignore  relevance in favour of an arrogant assertion of a res judicata but then  undermines the statement by wrongly asserting, without even an attempt at justification, that the on-street  parking does not impede the free flow of traffic.

Once again, I must refute this, being an individual who has to frequently negotiate this section of Millers Lane and its continuation via Sherwood Way (formerly Sherwood Crescent), rather than one of the members of the traffic engineers department, who has only negotiated the route on paper.

Line 57  states an admirable rationale, without actually validating it.

Ref lines 58-61, my concerns might be alleviated if I am allowed to see the raw data, after they are collected in October, when Rush hour traffic has peaked again. The best time would be Friday between 3 and 6 o’clock.

It was gracious to acknowledge  (line 81) my statement that I was aware that the Council was spending our money on its plans for the Town Centre and that it’s program “Wigan on the move” had stated that there would only be money for superficial attention to suburban traffic problems.

Lines 87 to 93 is a lovely example of sophistry. Basically nobody wants to use Sherwood Way (for, to me, obvious reasons) and by making them use it, it will, ipso facto, be used more (defined as being more efficient use).

Line 94 is another one of those wishful statements, plucked from the ether, which basically says that we think/hope it will speed up traffic flow, because traffic shooting along the A573 will have to slam their anchors on to avoid cars trying to find gaps in their flow… ….remember the emerging traffic has to give way to traffic from the right and gaps created earlier at Lily lane and the Millers lane junction will have filled.

There will not be as many people entering the estate in the morning (time to go out to work) and there will not be as many trying to leave the estate in the evening (‘cos they’re all on the way home).

Lines 107 to 119, I reluctantly accept as valid, as it is obvious to everyone except the Government that we don’t have enough coppers.

Others, speaking to me, have queried why traffic lights  can’t be installed, whilst others have queried that the same logic hasn’t been applied to the traffic emerging from the Iceland store on Templeton Road.

I’m sure that there will be some way of rebutting these objections and I look forward to reading them.

I query, as I am by now in that mood, the use of the word “improvement” in line 122. This is in view of how it has helped create the present congestion on Platt Street.

 I further query the use of the phraseology in line 123, in view of the way it killed Platt Bridge as a village, by marooning the centre of it.

Line125 uses the word “unlikely”, implying a rejection of even contemplating the possibility of reversing previous closures. (doesn’t augur well for the closure of Millers Lane)

 It’s strange that line125 refers to substandard junctions, when the Council has built a large, extremely inefficient (i.e. barely used) traffic island for the aborted Tesco development at the end of Walthew Lane.

The only prohibition to the flow of traffic between  the two sections of Templeton Road , either side of the former  Netto car park, is a barrier with the same substantiality as the barrier now imposed in Millers Lane.

The whole area, bounded by Templeton Road, Walthew Street, Lomax Street and Silver Street is essentially derelict land with only (one of the many sited in this village)  Council property using the associated  Templeton road.

I hope these comments help you to appreciate the level of respect that I hold for the diligence and depth of thought applied by the Council Traffic Engineer and I once more repeat my own assertion , based on better founded observations, that this road blockage will not relieve the congestion on Platt Street.

As an afterthought, may we have a sand box at the bottom of Millers lane, before Winter, where we now have a downhill run into an acute bend, prior to turning into a stretch of on-street parking for the new two-storey Council built  Belong Village. (one of the largest purpose-built, high-quality developments in the North West)

 

1 Response from my MP to my email to the Secretary of States for Communities and for transport.

2 Dear Mr Shale

3 As you know, I did write to the Council about the traffic problems you are experiencing in Platt

4 Bridge and the Council’s proposals to alleviate this. I now enclose copies of the replies that I have

5 received.

6 The replies are self-explanatory and I hope you find the Council’s explanations for their proposals

7 useful, however, I would welcome any comments you may wish to make on the Council’s response.

8 Yours sincerely

9 Yvonne Fovargue Labour-Member for Makerfield

10

11 Initial response, from a Council Officer, to the MP.

12

13 I refer to your letter dated 27th June 2011 regarding the concerns of Mr Shale in respect of the

14 proposed Prohibition of Driving Traffic Regulation Order for Millers Lane, Platt Bridge, which was

15 addressed to Gillian Bishop and passed onto me to respond to.

16 The Council is promoting a prohibition of driving Traffic Regulation Order at the junction of Millers

17 Lane and Victoria Road, Platt Bridge.

18 The proposal will physically close the road at this point, and prevent vehicles from driving along this

19 section of Millers Lane.

20 Motorists will still be able to gain access to the retail units and New Street from Warrington Road.

21 However, those wishing to gain access to the wider estate will have to do so via the newly

22 constructed link road, Sherwood Way.

23 Sherwood Way has recently been built linking Millers Lane to the roundabout on the A573 and was

24 opened to the public in November 2010.

25 In May 2010, the Highway Authority began a programme of Strategic Transport Route Assessments

26 on Wigan’s main arterial roads to identify causes of congestion and to propose potential

27 interventions with the aim of achieving improved travel performance on the network.

28 The A573 Warrington Road, A58 Liverpool Road and the A58 Lily Lane were all included within the

29 assessments.

30 The route assessments on the A573 Warrington Road identified that vehicles waiting to turn right

31 from Warrington Road to Millers Lane blocked the movement ahead which caused congestion on

32 Warrington Road.

33 The purpose of this Traffic Regulation Order is to remove the vehicles that currently turn right from

34 Warrington Road into Millers Lane.

35 The measures aim to increase road safety at the Warrington Road/Millers Lane junction by reducing

36 the turning demand.

37 The accident database indicates that there have been six recorded injury accidents in the last three

38 year validated period — three of which involved turning vehicles.

39 The Traffic Regulation Order has followed a statutory procedure of being accepted by the Council’s

40 Traffic Management Unit, advertised on site and in the local press, as part of the consultation

41 process inviting comments or objections to the proposal. With a through-road such as Millers Lane,

42 it would prove problematic to consult with each individual user.

43 Mr Shale’s concerns that it is quite difficult to get out of the fourth arm of the roundabout at

44 Sherwood Way have been considered. With Millers Lane closed off, those motorists wishing to gain

45 access into the estate will do so at the roundabout, therefore creating gaps where there are none at

present.

46 This will allow for the roundabout to operate more efficiently and reduce gaps on all

47 approaches.

48 With regard to Mr Shale’s comments about off-road parking for new developments, the Council has

49 adopted parking standards which are outlined in the Unitary Development Plan. These standards are

50 based on those used by Greater Manchester and National Government (Planning Policy Guidance

51 13). They define the maximum number of parking spaces a development is entitled to supply. The

52 standards are designed to be used as part of a package of measures to promote sustainable

53 transport choices and the efficient use of land. The current on-street parking on Sherwood Drive

54 does not impede the free flow of traffic. If parking levels were to reach a level in which road safety

55 were compromised, the Highway Authority would look to take appropriate action through the

56 introduction of parking restrictions.

57 The rationale for the proposal is to keep traffic moving, reduce journey times and improve journey

58 reliability on the strategic route network. The Highway Authority aim to undertake a number of

59 surveys and assessments once the remedial action has been implemented on site to ensure the

60 envisaged benefits are achieved.

61 I hope this response helps to alleviate some of Mr Shale’s concerns.

62 Yours sincerely

63 ======================

64 Gill Connolly

65 Interim Director — Environment

66

67 Please reply to: Richard Beamer

68 Wigan Council, Places Directorate, Civic Buildings, New Market Street, Wigan, WN1 1 RP

69 Phone: (01942) 404060

70 E-mail: r.beamer@wigan.gov.uk

71 http://www.wigan.gov.uk

72 Building the future together

73

74 Follow up response from Council Officers

75

76 Thank you for your letter dated 11th July 2011 addressed to Gillian Bishop,

77 Corporate Director – Places, regarding Mr Shale’s traffic concerns in Platt Bridge due to the Millers

78 Lane Prohibition of Driving.

79 I am responding to you on behalf of Gillian and hope you find the following comments helpful.

80

81 We acknowledge Mr Shale’s comments that there is no money available for new road building.

82 The Highways Authority has to therefore work with and manage the existing road network as best

83 possible to accommodate the current level of traffic.

84

85 As previously discussed, the closure at Millers Lane aims to keep traffic moving, reduce journey

86 times and improve journey reliability on the strategic road network.

87 The measures will reduce the number of vehicles turning at the junction of Warrington Road/Millers

88 Lane, as those motorists will now access the estate via the new link road at Sherwood Way.

By transferring the existing right turning vehicles to the roundabout at Warrington 89 Road/Liverpool

90 Road not only provides a safer, more formalised traffic manoeuvre but will also benefit the efficiency

91 of the roundabout.

92 Prior to the Millers Lane closure, the roundabout rarely operated as a four arm roundabout, as very

93 few people chose to access the estate via Sherwood Way.

94 By transferring more Motorists to the roundabout it will balance the flows, creating more gaps for

95 those accessing and egressing the roundabout, thus improving the efficiency of the junction.

96 The Traffic Section proposes to continue to monitor the area, and have a number of after surveys

97 planned to ensure that the envisaged benefits are achieved.

98 During the school holidays, traffic levels and traffic flows are lower that normal.

99 For this reason, the proposed surveys will be undertaken towards the end of September once traffic

100 levels return to normal.

101

102 There will always be an element of through-traffic that use residential roads, as certain motorists

103 feel that a time saving benefit is achieved by deviating from the major route.

104 We propose to-monitor the levels of vehicles travelling through the estate by-commissioning –

105 additional surveys.

106

107 We have investigated Mr Shale’s suggestion that a banned right turn and an access only Traffic

108 Regulation Order could have been considered, as opposed to the physical closure.

109 I can inform you that the Council does not introduce any new “Access Only” signage, as they rely on

110 Police enforcement for them to work, and are often heavily abused.

111 Enforcing a banned right turn or access only traffic regulation order is difficult and is not a priority

112 for the Police to carry out adequate levels of enforcement on these offences.

113 For this reason, a physical closure offers a solution to prevent vehicles contravening the Traffic

114 Regulation Order as it is self-enforcing.

115

116 Motorists contravening an access only or a prohibited turn movement commit a moving traffic

117 offence, which is the responsibility of the Police to enforce.

118 Unfortunately, the Council does not have the authority to enforce moving traffic offences via

119 camera, as Mr Shale suggests.

120

121 As I am sure you are aware, Walthew Lane used to be the major route through Platt Bridge.

122 Walthew Lane was re-aligned in the 1990s as part of a major highway improvement scheme to

123 provide a new route through Platt Bridge to allow further economic development of the area.

124 The closures indicated on Mr Shale’s plan were implemented alongside the major highway scheme.

125 It is unlikely that these streets could be re-opened as they would provide substandard junctions,

126 with poor visibility, for traffic wishing to access or egress A573 Warrington Road/Platt Street.

127

128 I hope this response helps to alleviate some of Mr Shale’s concerns and trust the above information

129 is useful.

130 Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further information.

131 Yours sincerely

132 =========================

133 Gill Connolly Interim Director

134 – Environment

135 Building the future together

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