Fringe Box



Letter: We Must Keep The Option of New Town Bridges Open

Published on: 26 Nov, 2015
Updated on: 26 Nov, 2015
The option of a new bridge across should not be compromised says

The option of a new town centre bridge or bridges across should not be compromised says Geraint Jones

From Geraint Jones

I agree with Mary Bedforth’s comment on the article: Council Mounts Exhibition of Guildford Park Road Car Park Development Plan. The traffic situation is terrible, and is repeated in many other locations regularly: Ladymead, Woodbridge Road, York Road, Stoke Road, etc, especially when there are problems on the A3 and drivers come off looking for an alternative route.

The Town Centre Master Plan pushes for more town centre residential property, and puts forward plans to create an even worse pinch point for traffic there, with the peak hour closure of the Farnham Road bridge over the railway even being suggested.

The idea apparently being that if the replacement for the gyratory is always clogged up by design, drivers will stay away from the town centre. I’m all for increased public transport use and bike lanes – I’m a cyclist myself – but realistically, the traffic problem is not going to go away.

Central Guildford is clearly split, from north to south, into two halves by the railway and river, with Farnham Road railway bridge and gyratory providing the only major east-west crossing point for road traffic over these two obstacles.

Thousands of journeys are made daily between residents in the east of Guildford and the university, research park, hospital, and vice-versa, many squeezing through the clogged-up gyratory.

For many, despite the jams, this is by far the shortest route: the next crossing point north is at the A25/A3, where everyone making local westbound trips has to join the A3 just to get to the Stag Hill turn-off, and south in Shalford which means a huge detour from the town centre.

Another town centre bridge or bridges are needed to increase capacity, easing the traffic problems caused by the river and railway. The new bridges should be made HGV-free to keep the traffic type not too heavy, calm the traffic with speed bumps, but add some extra capacity so not all that traffic has to cross Farnham Road bridge.

I made these points in response to the masterplan consultation, but I’m worried that the council is painting itself into a corner with numerous new developments; it seems that no-one is stepping back and looking at the big picture.

The town centre masterplan is exactly that – concentrating only on the town centre without providing a solution for all the displaced drivers who need to cross Guildford that are meant to be persuaded to stay away.

The new plans reported here are to use up council-owned land at one of the few sites that could accommodate a bridge with little disruption to existing properties: from Guildford Park Road car park over the railway to the Station View car park, thus squandering an opportunity to help address this major problem.

When the decision is taken to tackle this fundamental problem, with the only sensible option of a new bridge, I fear there’ll be no free space left in which to squeeze in this desperately needed additional infrastructure.

If no one at GBC and Surrey County Council tackles this major issue, an almost constantly-congested Guildford town centre is here to stay.

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Responses to Letter: We Must Keep The Option of New Town Bridges Open

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    November 26, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Close nothing! Build another bridge!

    Roads into Guildford are nearly all single carriageway: A281, A3001, A246, the road through Burham, Farnham Road, the one at the back of the station goind to the cathedral, Walnut Tree Close.

    None of them can be sensibly widened. Only Woodbridge Road is dualled, and that clogs up at the roundabout.

    It is no use closing anything. People need to get from one side of Guildford to the other.

    They cannot avoid the town centre as few roads cross the North Downs.

    A sensible gyratory system can be worked out using all the existing roads. A new bridge might help.

    Come on Guildford Borough Council, you’ve spent enough of our money on consultants to have this worked out.

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 26, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Geraint Jones puts the points very well and the councils and Solum Regeneration are aware of the suggestion for a bridge over the tracks from Guildford Park Road but appears not to have taken a decisive step towards such a proposal.

    The bridge must be considered now and incorporated in the planning brief, otherwise its route might be compromised by developments by Solum.

    If the readers who have not yet visited my website, I would urge them to do so (please search for ‘revamp guildford gyratory’).

    Here I have outlined two options with sketches for a bridge over the tracks and how this could be constructed with very little interference to the trains. The link below shows this:

    At the time (in 2010) I suggested that the ramps on the east side of the tracks came down to station car park area so as not to blight the properties if the route was taken further east to Woodbridge Road. I now support this route as proposed by Guildford Vision Group, not for four lanes but only for two lanes of traffic.

    A holistic solution must also consider relocation of the bus station and I’ve offered a suggestion that offers convenient connections to both the town centre and the railway station.

    What the councils are now suggesting in their options 1 and 2 are two lanes in each direction to take all the traffic. This how it was in 1968 before the Friary bridge was built and the gyratory was put in place.

    It must be little short of madness to even contemplate that with the present day volume of traffic that this arrangement would work.

    Even with on-street bus bays replacing the bus station as the councils have in mind, where would the bus stops be located so that they do not obstruct further the already diminshed capacity of the network?

    I have on many ocassions commented on this here on the Guildford Dragon NEWS columns but so far no notice of it has apparently been taken by those proposing the alterations to the gyratory. So I’ve expressed my concern in the letter

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 17, 2015 at 10:41 am

    I would like to comment on the recent Guildford Borough Council (GBC) proposals of £9 million that includes ‘improvements’ to pedestrian route from the railway station by building a new bridge to replace the Wanut Tree Close (WTC) footbridge over the river and temporarily close WTC.

    No doubt a better bridge is needed to accommodate cyclists, but is this a priority at this stage of traffic congestion on the gyratory?

    Would not this money be better spent in building a road bridge with cycle lanes over the river and take one lane of one way traffic from WTC to Woodbridge Road and modify the gyratory with funds councils have received already?

    Gyratory modification is possible whereby it would enable Bridge Street north footway to be widened for pedestrians when a lane is taken off to make room for it. This would remain the preferred route until the station is redeisgned by Solum, if their current planning application is approved.

    This is several years away and in the meantime GBC and Surrey County Council are sitting on a funding of over £2 million from the M3 local enterprise partnership for redesigning the gyratory and they have done nothing so far!

    The town centre masterplan is years away and I believe no one is sure whether the vision is achievable or financially viable. In the meantime Guildford is suffering congestion day in and day out while councils are planning projects that are not urgent.

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