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Ash Road Bridge Has Majority Public Support, Council Believes

Published on: 27 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 27 Sep, 2023

By David Reading

More than 400 people turned up at Guildford Borough Council’s two public information sessions to provide facts and figures on the Ash road bridge project – and most of them supported the scheme, the council said this week.

A CGI of how the Ash Road Bridge will look.

Despite concerns about the project voiced over the years, the council believes the bridge’s chief purpose – to solve the traffic problems created at the Ash level crossing – has the support of most people.

The main construction work on the £45 million bridge is scheduled to begin within the next month with completion expected in December 2024.

A council statement said after the information sessions held at the Ash Centre: “While there were some concerns expressed, the majority were in support of the scheme.”

These concerns have been voiced regularly in The Guildford Dragon NEWS since the project was first announced. They have focused primarily on the huge cost of the project – estimated at £12 million when it was first discussed by the previous council but now expected to be around £44.5 million.

There have also been fundamental concerns that the traffic problems that the bridge is designed to address will simply move elsewhere in the area – for example, at the roundabout of the A323 and Ash Hill Road and at the Foreman Road end of the bridge.

The council is hopeful that fear about future traffic problems will prove to be unfounded.

A recent statement said: “The scheme will encourage traffic off rural roads. Traffic currently uses rural roads to avoid the level crossing. It will remove the safety hazard posed by the present level crossing. Network Rail considers the level crossing as a medium-high risk. There have been some recorded incidents of misuse by vehicles and pedestrians.

“The scheme will end the existing traffic congestion hotspot. The level crossing causes delays to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. It closes around eight times an hour or 150 times a day. This currently amounts to closure periods of up to 25 minutes per hour. Delays are likely to increase with the planned enhancement of passenger train services. The Gatwick to Reading route enhancements are already underway.”

One of the major issues raised at last week’s information exercise was pedestrian access to Ash railway station.

Addressing this issue, The council’s Deputy Leader and Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Cllr Tom Hunt, said: “I can confirm that the level crossing will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists after the bridge is open and until such time as a footbridge is installed.”




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Responses to Ash Road Bridge Has Majority Public Support, Council Believes

  1. Robert Malcolm Reply

    September 27, 2023 at 8:51 am

    A lift is required for the disabled.

  2. Roger Kendall Reply

    September 27, 2023 at 10:14 am

    The main bridge looked good at the exhibition however there was no date or plans available for drop off points either side of the station or the footbridge. In fact, it appears the footbridge is up to the railway and is not part of the overall development.

    Good to see parking will be allowed on the old Guildford road between station and Dover arms roundabout but the rest of the work needs to be completed soon after to avoid accidents with the gates and pedestrians.

  3. John Ferns Reply

    February 1, 2024 at 8:43 pm

    GBC and local Cllrs in all previous administrations since 2016 have continually maintained that there is overwhelming public support for the road bridge, even quoting a petition going back as long ago as 2004, at the full council meeting in March 2023, which finally approved the bridge construction.

    Overwhelming support is NOT the case as a study of the 2004 petition, lodged in the SCC archive, reveals. The petition, signed by 270 households, entitled “Traffic on the A323 in Ash”, laid before the Guildford Local Committee on 29 January 2004 makes no mention of the need for a road bridge. The subject of the petition was concern solely about the speed and volume of traffic and the numbers of heavy goods vehicles on Ash Street and Ash Church Road and the risks they posed to parents dropping off their children at the 3 primary schools along that narrow road.

    This is no more than ASHRA & AGRA have been campaigning for over the years. The bridge will do nothing to alleviate this as two way traffic will flow even more slowly (and dangerously) on both sides of this narrow highway 100% of the time, encouraging motorists to find alternative routes along even more unsuitable roads in the adjacent area. At least, with a level crossing in place, there are regular breaks in the two way traffic flow.

    This was the Local Committees unsatisfactory conclusion in 2004. “The petition has raised a wide range of concerns regarding traffic in Ash. To some extent, these concerns are broadly similar to the concerns of many other communities in Guilford, Surrey and beyond, although they also demonstrate some characteristics specific to the Ash area, particularly the presence of several schools, and the presence of the level crossing. As the officers’ response has shown, there are no easy, affordable solutions to many of these concerns; they are the unfortunate consequence of our car-borne society. The measures set out in para. 32 will go some way to assist the problem, but only a willingness to reduce car use will have the effect that the petitioners are seeking.”

    That was 20 years ago and traffic volumes are now even greater. In the meantime vast swathes of open green space in the Ash & Tongham wards have been built over and to add insult to injury, developers along Harpers Road and Ash Green Road have not been compelled to use the network of internal roads within the bridge’s footprint, adding to greater potential for rat running.

    Is the bridge value for money? And will it bring the benefits it promised? And what pressure can be put on Network Rail to keep their side of the bargain in providing the footbridge, given the timescales they revealed to Cllr Sue Wyeth-Price in her recent FoI request?

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