Fringe Box



Letter: Ideas For Affordable Road Tunnels

Published on: 12 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 14 Oct, 2013

Traffic 3 470 featureFrom Bibhas Neogi

Having seen some enthusiasm expressed for tunnels under Guildford town, I thought it might be worthwhile putting forward my views on a possible scenario.

Putting the A3 in a tunnel under Guildford or constructing a bypass around the north-western sector would be quite difficult to justify in terms of benefits over cost and other environmental issues.

A 9km long tunnel would cost a staggering £1.8 billion based on the cost of Hindhead Tunnel. Dealing with the exhaust fumes that are required to be extracted and discharged at several points along the tunnel would also be challenging over built-up areas.

A more modest idea would be to provide a much shorter tunnel (about 1.5km) between the A25 and the A281 along with other measures and improvements to the A3 junctions. I have drawn up a couple of sketches that show these. These are:

I wonder what do other readers think about these ideas?

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Responses to Letter: Ideas For Affordable Road Tunnels

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    October 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I see that Bibhas Neogi agrees with me that the insertion of a four way intersection on the A320 is perfectly viable and that this would support the re-think of the Clay Lane/Slyfield link as being surplus to future need, especially as the A320 could be suitably upgrade to solve the access problem at Slyfield.

    Not so sure what the shorter tunnel to the A281 would gain.

    The first section of the tunnel from Burpham could be constructed with the cheaper ‘cut and cover’ technique and could allow for the correct gradients to go under the river.

    I would dare suggest that the cost of land purchase would escalate during the 25 plus years of arguments between ‘the central government’ and NIMBYs, joined by the tree huggers. They would quite justifiable come out of the woodwork if the western by-pass, north of Sutton Park, and round by Fairlands, was proposed properly. The cost would soon escalate close to the higher figure and the delays would mean the people of Guildford would have to suffer another 30 years of traffic blight.

    A tunnel from Burpham to Compton would only affect two groups of peoples, both of which already suffer traffic blight to a worse extent than others. This option offers the lowest risk of increasing he blight.

    The internal traffic problems of Guildford town centre and getting into/out of the centre could well be solved, if through traffic on the A3 is ‘disappeared’ into a tunnel with no choice for through traffic drivers. The tailbacks on the A3 which cause traffic chaos on other connected roads would be greatly reduced.

    It will be interesting to see what happens and is decided in the next few years.

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 13, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for re-posting my comments as a letter.

    The second URL should be

    • Martin Giles Reply

      October 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Now corrected. Ed

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Jim Allen may not have seen my sketches for making Stoke Road Interchange into an all directional junction that has been described on my website since 2010. However, it is not important as to who suggested it first.

    My proposal for an off-slip to Clay Lane and a roundabout on it, west of the river bridge, are primarily for traffic leaving northbound A3, heading for Burpham and Merrow. This would reduce congestion on the A25 and London Road.

    Mr Allen appears to have not accepted the point I made that an A3 tunnel from Burpham to Compton, costing around £1.8 billion, would be prohibitively expensive. It could not be justified as costs would be many more times the benefits likely to be accrued.

    The congestion on the off-slip at Stoke Road interchange and hence traffic tailing back on the A3 is due to congestion on the A25 Ladymead and Stoke Road itself. The absence of an off-slip at Dennis interchange means that traffic heading for the A322 has to also use Ladymead. My proposal is to take this traffic on a viaduct as shown in the sketches that are in the two links provided.

    A tunnel from the A25 to the A281 would relieve town centre congestion, particularly in the gyratory. It may also be possible to provide a link to the A3100 at the southern end so that gyratory congestion would be further reduced.

  4. Bernard Parke Reply

    October 15, 2013 at 9:03 am

    The building of any tunnel, affordable or not, would take decades to build.

    We need a solution to solve Guildford traffic congestion now. We all know in reality this will not happen.

    There is too much through traffic which will only increase under any “quick fix” scheme.

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Of course, it does take a lot of time from conception to construction for roads and even longer for tunnels. But there are short to medium term improvements possible by utilizing existing road space more efficiently and by injecting a modest bit of funding to construct new infrastructures to redirect some traffic and so improve circulation.

    By operating a single-lane contraflow in Lower Farnham Road and the Friary Bridge, plus altering Debenham’s crossing into a staggered the circulation could be hugely improved. Furthermore, taking northbound traffic through a one-way Walnut Tree Close to Woodbridge Road, via a New River Bridge, would also improve traffic flows a great deal. Such a modification would also allow two northbound lanes in Onslow Street to be reduced to one and make room for an additional southbound lane from York Road roundabout to the Friary pedestrian crossing, thus improving southbound flow of traffic.

    Also, if the bus station, with comfortable waiting areas, was relocated to the Mary Road car park site and bus stops installed around the Friary and its extension, as well as at the railway station, reasonable overall improvement to traffic in the gyratory could be achieved.

    Please do visit my website for more details and look up the sketches contained that describe these improvements more clearly. I hope Bernard Parke and readers who are yet to explore my ideas presented in the website would find these practicable and promising.

  6. Sevy Singh Reply

    October 15, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    If you want to discourage traffic introduce: congestion charging; toll roads; zero tolerance of any driving offence 7am to 10am & 3:30pm to 7pm; closure of all town centre car-parks between 7am to 10am & 3:30pm to 7pm and; charge companies for providing car parking spaces.

    If you want increase capacity introduce: a mandatory 20mph speed limit; a ban all parking, waiting, pickups & deliveries between 7am to 10am & 3:30pm to 7pm where the vehicle has to stop in road. Also remove pedestrian crossings that stop traffic flow and replace with ramps/escalators/lifts, these will be cheaper to run then building tunnels/flyovers.

  7. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    October 15, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Opening up the old underpass at Debenhams would help. I can’t believe they closed it in the first place. I have lived in Guildford for most of my life and traffic was never that bad joining the A281 from the one way system before they closed the underpass.

    And move the off ramp from the A3 onto Stoke crossroads back up the A3 nearer Spectrum. That junction has got to be one of the worst designed junctions going, having that set of lights as you come off the A3 causes no end of problems. There are too many lights in one place.

  8. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 16, 2013 at 11:23 am

    There have been some discussions on these pages of The Guildford Dragon NEWS about the issues Sevy Singh has brought up. Congestion charging can only operate when there are viable alternative routes. There are none in Guildford and all traffic is forced to go through it.

    Zero tolerance need to be enforced by a large number of traffic wardens and removal trucks. I guess that is not a sustainable measure. I don’t think banning parking during the hours suggested would be supported by the business sector. Such measures would have an adverse effect on Guildford’s businesses and drive them out.

    Speed is already well below 20 mph during peak hours, so restriction in reality would achieve very little but for other times may increase pedestrian safety.

    Ramps pose the problem of finding space to provide gradients that are now required to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act. So in cramped areas steps, escalators and lifts do offer solutions but these places, out of hours, become unsafe because of anti-social activities such as muggings.

    To Sean Jenkins I would draw his attention to the fact that Debenhams subway was filled in with concrete and I suspect it cannot be easily reopened.

    Relocating the off-slip near Spectrum would not resolve the problem. The problem is of congestion on Ladymead that constricts traffic joining in and causes tailbacks on the A3. The solution lies in reducing traffic in Ladymead and creating a better flow through it, through the town and the gyratory. The longer term solution lies in constructing tunnels and viaducts when traffic grows even more for these measures to cope with.

  9. Jim Allen Reply

    October 17, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I am so glad people are sitting up and taking notice. Problems created by a north-bound A3 off slip road at Burpham/Clay Lane can only be cured by a four way at the A320.

    I’ll try and explain briefly why:

    Traffic at present uses Ladymead going north from the A3 to Woking, Merrow and A25.

    If a slip road is built at Clay lane, then most north-bound traffic trying to avoid Ladymead will use this slip road to get to Merrow along New Inn lane, complete with 90 degree bends, traffic lights, a low bridge. It should be remembered that this is a residential road already running at 110% of theoretical capacity. If Aldi obtain planning permission there will possibly be an additional half million journeys each year onto the intersection with the London Road. This, along with traffic trying to get to Woking along C class roads of Sutton Green and the proposed Slyfield link. The ripple effect is a horror waiting to happen.

    In respect of the on slip southwards, this is, I am sorry to say, a nonsense at this location as it would mean crossing opposing traffic to get on it and turning 90 degrees past a concrete bridge pillar. It would be better at the slip road off as there is space to do it.

    They are tinkering with a problem destined to get worse by approximately 20% in 30 years. Slyfield link, Aldi, 2000(rumoured) plus houses on Gosden Hill) –

    If a four way intersection is required by weight of traffic then it should be at Potters Lane with a link to the A25. They could thend shut down the Send, West Clandon, Clay Lane and London Road A3 slips diverting them all to Potters Lane.

    This would reduce through traffic in four villages: Send, Ripley, West Clandon, and Burpham and re-balance the traffic flows to what they should be when the A3 was opened.

  10. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    October 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Well they did think about building a footbridge at Debenhams so why not do that? There is plenty of room there. As for the off ramp from the A3 to the Stoke lights, heading towards Woking from the Stoke lights there are two sets of lights there, one at the stoke crossing and then one at the off ramp junction. There is no good way to set the lights up with out traffic being caught up there and causing a jam. I know, I spend every week-night stuck there, thinking how badly designed the junction is.

  11. Gordon Bridger Reply

    October 17, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    How about Cllr Mansbridge’s suggestion that one could tunnel under the A3 and fund it, or a good deal of it, by selling the land on the A3 for housing? Sounds an interesting idea.

    A monorail seriously considered a few years ago to the university, hospital and Research Park could be more economic now if linked into an extension of the university and Research Park and funded by development in that area.

    The surface pedestrian link across Millbrook rightly gives priority to pedestrians.The underpass was avoided on Friday and Saturday evenings by young energetic males who lept over the rails: over 200 were caught doing so on CCTV.

    A new station at Park Barn would help, as would a heli-pad for the Research Park.

    If Guildford is to survive economically it needs to promote its high tech professional enterprises and become the “silicon valley” of southern England.

  12. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 18, 2013 at 1:20 am

    In reply to the comment from Jim Allen in which he says if the Clay Lane off-slip were provided, traffic mainly heading for Burpham would use this, so Ladymead, Parkway and London Road would be relieved of this traffic. I believe it possible that only a few who are in the north of Merrow near New Inn Lane might use it since most of Merrow would continue to be accessed via the better route of Parkway, Boxgrove Road and Epsom Road.

    As for traffic going to Woking and Merrow, they would come off at Stoke Road Interchange if it were made into a full junction, as per my suggested improvements and use the A320 and the A25 respectively. Why on earth anyone would want to use Clay Lane to rejoin the A320 via Jacobs Well travelling twice the distance?

    If the Aldi store goes ahead, traffic would reach it via Parkway or Clay Lane and then London Road whether or not the A3 off-slip at Clay Lane is built.

    Slyfield Link from the roundabout on Clay Lane in my proposal is an option that may, or may not, be a reality. It would be part of design considerations for the proposed housing development.

    Why would my suggestion of the route to the southbound on-slip at Clay Lane be nonsensical when the northbound on-slip to the A3 faces similar crossing traffic controlled by traffic lights? I’ve suggested similar traffic lights, clearly shown on the sketch for this junction. The 90 degree bend is within the controlled speed zone before the slip road joins the A3 and therefore perfectly safe. In Jim Allen’s suggestion one has to travel north and back 3 km to come to the same point on the A3.

    If houses are planned for Gosden Hill area appropriate planning for infrastructures would no doubt have to be made and that certainly would have to address links to the A3.

    I response to the comment from Sean Jenkins I say, a replacement footbridge would require long ramps (at 1 in 20 slope at current standards) and there is not enough room to accommodate them. Please see the sketch on my website for suggested Stoke Road junction improvements that uses a relocated northbound on-slip.

  13. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 18, 2013 at 1:23 am

    I wish to respond to Gordon Bridger’s comment.

    The area of land for, say, the 10km long stretch of the A3, on average 35 metres wide, is 350,000 sq.m. Based on the cost of the tunnel of about £1800m, the cost of land would be about £5,000 per sq.m. If, on average, a house occupies 200 sq.m. the cost of land alone would be £1m per house. Not quite affordable.

    Not quite sure how the monorail would connect with other transport modes. Would it connect with the railway station and the bus station? It seems worth exploring.

    My suggestion of a staggered crossing at Millbrook would cause only a slight delay to the pedestrians in exchange for a much safer crossing for them. Such a modification would result in a much better southbound flow since the crossing would only be one lane wide and it would take a third of the time to cross it. To illustrate the advantage: say, it now takes 15 seconds to cross the three lanes, it would only take five seconds to cross the single southbound lane. This would give traffic an extra 10 seconds on every cycle and help clear the blockage of southbound traffic that often tails back on the gyratory.

    A new halt at Park Barn and at Merrow would certainly help. As a post-graduate alumnus of the University of Surrey, I would highly recommend its expansion and promote developments of its associated high-tech ventures that are going to boost Guildford’s economy.

  14. Bernard Parke Reply

    October 18, 2013 at 8:09 am

    A footbridge was built by popular demand at the railway bridge by the entrance to Woking, at great expense, but pedestrians preferred to run the gauntlet by not using it. It was subsequently removed.

    A tunnel, perhaps, but such a scheme would take decades, if it were possible at all.

    Frankly, we must, in some way, address the problem now. That cannot be achieved by making the town more car friendly as that will only exacerbate the problem caused by through traffic.

  15. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    October 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

    The Hindhead tunnel took about four years and £371m to build. They did not have to worry about roads, buildings, traffic or pedestrians, all the things when digging a tunnel so close to a major town you would have to deal with. And let’s not forget, we are trying to make the traffic better in Guildford. This would make it 100 time worse while it is being done.

    As it is, the traffic in Guildford is going to get worse when they start the North Street redevelopment.

    We need affordable and easy to implement options, and fast. We don’t need plans that will cause more traffic and cost silly amounts of money.

    By the way, there was a underpass at Debenhams but they filled it in. I’m not 100% sure that they filled in the whole thing or just the entrances.

  16. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I hoped Bernard Parke would see the merit in measures making traffic move through the gyratory rather than it sitting in jams and polluting the environment.

    The aim should be to treat fairly all road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorized traffic. There is a tendency to demonise motorized traffic and aspire for pedestrian only roads. I strongly believe that the solution lies in efficient use of road space and targeted infrastructure improvements at affordable costs through innovation and judicious planning.

    In my proposals for the improvements to the gyratory, I believe I have achieved that balance by creating wider footways, cycle lanes to the town centre and better flow of traffic.

    I’m not sure what Bernard Parke meant by a tunnel in the context of Millbrook crossing. If he meant a subway, then a new one is unlikely to be built as GBC after consultation closed it, having received overwhelming support from the public.

    I know he is unhappy about traffic from the A31 entering Farnham Road on its way to the town centre. If the tunnel connecting the A25 and the A281 is built, and other improvements to the A3 as I have suggested on my website are carried out, this through traffic would be much reduced.

  17. Bernard Parke Reply

    October 19, 2013 at 7:53 am

    We must get traffic, especially heavy through traffic, out of the town centre.

    Alterations to the gyratory system will only encourage a larger influx of traffic congestion which will be diabolical when work starts on Hayden Place and North Street.

  18. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Sean Jenkinson has rightly raised the issue of traffic management during roadworks. Road schemes on or adjacent to live traffic have to address the effect of construction and indeed the safety of road users and construction workers. Tunnels that I have proposed have their portals well away from the live trafficked areas, so could be built safely. Of course construction vehicles need to have access from the road network.

    Traffic management needs to be planned very carefully, and be an integral part of the design of the permanent works to ensure that disruptions are minimum and tolerable. Measures may need restricted working hours, diversions, temporary routes or widening and tidal flows on existing carriageways etc.

    There are standards for safety, pedestrian access, lane widths, alignment, use of barriers, cones and lights given in Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual. These rules have to be strictly observed by the road builders. Some disruptions and delays are inevitable but ‘no pain no gain’ as they say. Again careful traffic management would be an essential part of North Street redevelopment work.

    There is no place for ‘silly monies’ or needless waste as all road schemes have to go through rigorous appraisals and assessments to ensure that their overall benefits exceed costs. Only the preferred options are likely to be carried through, funds permitting.

    I suspect Debenhams subway has been completely filled in. There is no provision for access to it as would otherwise be required to inspect and maintain it had it been left voided in the middle.

  19. Andrew Backhurst Reply

    October 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    When Cllr Mansbridge talks of a tunnel, I am sure he is not thinking of an inner Guildford tunnel like Bibhas Neogi has on his website.

    In my view, most, if not all, of Bibas Neogi’s ideas are flawed and unworkable and would not serve the purpose. The cost of removing the extracted soils, and there would be tens of thousands of cubic metres would be enormous and with no landfill available in the area and no chance of making a product from recycling the soils from under Guildford, the cost would be prohibitive.

    I am sure Mr Mansbridge is thinking of a tunnel through the Hog’s Back or the North Downs to the east of Guildford to form a bypass to get the through traffic out of the town. Either of these tunnels would be short and the added benefit of this is that the spoil from them would be chalk and will have a far greater value for reuse in approach roads and aggregate sales.

  20. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    How refreshing it is to get some more feedback on my ideas for improving traffic in Guildford even though it is totally negative. I wonder if Mr. Backhurst is the one of the small minority who has voted against the tunnel idea in the Dragon Poll here in The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

    The spoil from my 1.5km long proposed tunnel (twin bore like Hindhead Tunnel) would be about 225,000 cubic metres. Maybe this could be spread over the boring flat fields of Normandy, for example, and transform these into pleasingly undulating landscape. Alternatively it could be shoved into…. no, I will let Mr. Backhurst could suggest where to dump it instead, as he seems he has geological knowledge of Guildford. Maybe not over the sandstone, unstable Gault Clay or Jurassic limestone?

    In any case, I would leave such muck shifting to professionals who know where to dump or bury the unwanted stuff. For those who want to know, the following extract very briefly describes the geology of Guildford: “…..comprises buff to brown, gritty to ferruginous, cemented, cross-bedded, coarse-grained sandstone with beds of pale grey calcareous sandstone. Locally a pebble bed occurs at the base, with clasts of Hythe Formation, glauconite pebbles, quartz granules, brown phosphatic pebbles and pebbles of Jurassic limestone. …..”

    There you go, all explained very clearly.

  21. Andrew Backhurst Reply

    October 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

    It was never my intention of upsetting Bibhas Neogi with my comments. They were intended to be purely constructive, but I do not think an inner Guildford tunnel will ever happen or be cost effective.

    As Bibhas Neogi stated, his tunnel will have 225,000 cubic metres of spoil: that is 15,000 lorry loads of waste. Yes, you can make hills and acoustic barriers with it and they can be a workable option but that will be an awful lot of movements during construction.

    As for the other complaint against me, no I didn’t vote against the tunnel in the Dragon Poll. But if I had voted it would have been for a tunnel, but not in town.

    You have got to take into account the plans to double the town population and the movement of people will double with it so it will be important take the through traffic out of town.

  22. Edward Russell Reply

    October 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    It’s a shame that Bibhas Neogi felt the need to make a rather personal attack on Mr Backhurst, who I am sure he realised, is based in Normandy. And seeing the business Mr Backhurst is involved in I am sure he has some knowledge of what he is talking about when it comes to soil extraction.

    I have no doubt Mr Neogi’s description of Guildford’s geology is correct but I believe Mr Backhurst’s description of the Hogs Back spoil being chalk to be correct.

  23. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    The description of geology of Guildford is not mine. It is a quote from a geological report. I have no doubt Mr Backhurst has knowledge of Guildford’s geology but others have it too.

    I have not made any personal remarks concerning Mr Backhurst. I simply wondered if he voted against the idea of the sort of tunnel I had described on my website. I was not accusing Mr. Backhurst of anything at all. Everyone is free to express their opinion and to rubbishing ideas put forward by others with or without reasons. It did not upset me since I believe all my ideas are technically sound. Improvements to the A3 and those within the town centre including the gyratory are pragmatic and could be taken forward.

    Whether Mr Backhurst has connection with Normandy is not relevant. Flat areas anywhere would benefit from landscaping and environmental barriers as Mr. Backhurst himself has acknowledged.

    What I would like to see are alternative ideas by others put forward clearly and with their locations, length of surface bypasses or tunnels and their costs. Let us have some details about these tunnels outside of the town. I would direct the readers who I suspect have not read the comments expressed earlier, to scroll up and read them.

    Chalk quarries were in Quarry Street as they were in York Road’s Foxenden quarries. So what material is likely to be found along the length of the tunnel from Stoke Park to Millmead if not chalk since the North Downs extends from Farnham to Dorking?

  24. Andrew Backhurst Reply

    October 24, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    I for one have a very definite opinion as to where a tunnel and supporting road system will be located. This will be a shorter tunnel (only three quarters of a mile long) and the spoil will be used to build the access roads.

    However, I do not feel that to speculate on the location of the scheme, on the letters page of a news website, shows respect or consideration for local land owners. This land is likely to be privately owned and residents in the affected areas will be less than happy if the potential details are published in a public domain. It is insensitive and may cause considerable and unnecessary stress to those affected.

  25. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Dear Martin

    A 3/4 of a mile (1.2km) tunnel to sort out the A3 problems would be a tremendous advantage. I would expect Mr Backhurst to contact the authorities and let them know of his ideas. GBC is currently carrying out consultation on the preparation of the Local Plan in their Swan Lane drop-in centre and other locations around the county.

    The stretch of the A3 through Guildford is about 9km long and has five junctions from the A31 Hogs Back to Clay Lane. The shortest possible tunnel would be about 6.5 km if the north portal were located in the flood plains of river Wey adjacent to Slyfield sewage works. The Slyfield Area Regeneration Plan (SARP) would be affected by such a proposal. SARP is dependent on relocation of the sewage works and I do not know how this plan is progressing.

    Mr Backhurst’s 1.2km long tunnel could at best bypass one of these junctions and where would the tunnel portals be situated and how would the connections to local roads be dealt with? What would be done for the other three junctions leaving aside Clay Lane junction?

    The idea of putting the A3 in a tunnel has been mooted by some readers here but I do not know if Cllr Mansbridge has been briefed about the technical and cost aspects of an A3 tunnel. I am aware that SCC and GBC are in discussion with the Highways Agency about the A3 but there is nothing in the public domain about possible improvements.

    Mr Backhurst is right not to speculate where his tunnel might be and for the same reason my ideas for tunnel options in the town do not involve private properties as they begin and end in GBC-owned land well away from residential areas. I have an idea for a short tunnel to put one lane of the northbound A3 under Hog’s Back as shown in the last sketch on my website ( Again no dwellings are affected but the land may well be privately owned.

  26. Patrick Harper Reply

    July 1, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Why not build a southern bypass from Send to Milford? It would allow a much more direct route than there is right now, it would allow for existing routes to be reserved for local purposes (some of which dismantled to enhance environment), and it would be an opportunity to upgrade more parts of the A3 corridor to motorway.

  27. Bernard Parke Reply

    July 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

    How can any road tunnel ever be affordable?

    Any tunnel affordable or unaffordable would take decades to achieve, as was the case of the Hindhead tunnel.

    The southern by-pass proposal was planned before the Surrey County Council took over from the Borough Council back in the seventies but instead they proceeded with the ill conceived gyratory system. This system did not work then and it certainly does not work now.

    Any central development, of any kind, should be put on hold until a solution is found to take out the through traffic from central Guildford.

  28. Jim Allen Reply

    July 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I thought the tunnel idea had died, that a study had found that the problem is internal rather than through traffic so reducing through traffic would have little or no effect on the problem.

    I ask the question, is the Guildford Road system at capacity, or is there some other reason for the problems?

    The roads flow freely all day for two days, then are clogged on the third. Could this be the ‘rate of clear up’ of any blockage?

    Bus lanes which have three buses an hour effectively clog the system with ‘unused tarmac’. They might be okay in London but are they really the answer in Guildford. Photos exist as evidence of their total failure.

    Some traffic light settings can also have adverse effects. The A320/Moorfield Road junction is an example. Why have a slip lane, left into Moorfield Road from the Woking direction, when no vehicles can use it? I say change the settings and get rid of the slip lanes. It works in Greenford and Uxbridge road, why not in Guildford.

  29. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 3, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Now that the government has announced funding for the widening of the Guildford stretch of the A3, it is time to air our views on what could be achieved in the very short term whilst the study and eventual design of the scheme is completed. It would take several years before any construction work starts.

    I put down my thoughts on this topic. Apologies for a somewhat lengthy comment but problems are so many!

    Autumn Statement 2014 had announced £100-250m for this work.

    Study will take until the autumn, so are there any quick fixes? If there were any quick fixes, they would have been done by now. However, there are a few tweaks that could be carried out quickly and at low cost to improve matters a little. These are:

    1. A31 merge with the northbound A3. This is a very sub-standard junction and often causes accidents that block the A3 and consequently surrounding west and south west areas of Guildford and Godalming. What could be done? 50mph speed limit on the A3 is flouted by many. Speed should be reduced to 40mph and then 30mph and speed cameras installed to enforce it. Speed should be back to 50mph beyond this junction.

    2. Part time signal at the superstore roundabout would help. Also the northbound on-slip should be the the one from Egerton Road only. Access to this slip road off the roundabout could be closed off and instead traffic could be directed to the cathedral round about and back This would create a longer stacking lane and stop blocking the roundabout. Egerton Road is wide enough to have three marked lanes and the nearside lane towards the superstore roundabout would become a dedicated on-slip.

    3. At Stoke Road junction, right turn from the slip road to Woking Road, the A320, should be barred. This would allow removal of the set of traffic lights and improve flow to northbound on-slip and towards Woking. A roundabout should be constructed on Parkway roughly opposite the lido. Parkway is wide enough, so a small area of land is required from lido’s eastern corner. So Woking-bound traffic from the slip road would turn left and left again into Parkway and turn around at this round about and proceed to the junction.

    4. To improve evening rush hour problem of on-slip at ‘Dennis Roundabout’, the nearside lane of the A3 should be a dedicated off-slip to the ‘cathedral roundabout’. The offside lane of the A3 would continue as a single lane. A speed limit of 40mph would also help.This would allow on-slip traffic joining the southbound A3 a lot safer and remove the disadvantage of a very short slip road exit from the Cathedral roundabout.

    Key problems are:

    5. The problem of the A3 is clearly the volume of traffic and therefore it needs to have increased capacity. Widening along the existing corridor is the easiest option if it could be done within the highway boundary. Alternative of a western bypass or a tunnel are longer term options requiring lengthy appraisal, environmental assessments, and public inquiries etc. In my view a tunnel would be too expensive and could not be justified as cost would be a lot higher than benefits to be gained.

    What about recently aired Lib Dem’s speed camera idea?

    6. Speed cameras on the southbound approach to the Stoke Road junction would help but accidents on top of congestion make matters even worse. Congestion causes driver frustration and leads indirectly to accidents. The approach to the off-slip could be better controlled by stopping last minute cutting up from lane three by fast-moving cars. If it is possible to change the lane marking by turning the existing lane marking into a solid line and painting a broken line to the left to it so as to stop cars crossing from lane three to lane two as this movement would become a traffic offence. Cameras could monitor this as well.

    All the above are fairly low-cost measures and some of them could even be tried out on an experimental basis. Effective use of this investment would be widening and junction improvements as follows:

    7. Widening is the best option and junctions are obviously needed to be improved. That would be the effective use of this investment. Starting from the A31 and A3 merge, the widening would not be straightforward. There are two bridges – the old arch bridge carrying Farnham Road and the other bridge carrying the off-slip road to Farnham. Both the bridges cannot accommodate any widening of the A3 under them. To replace them would be horrendously disruptive and expensive. An innovative approach is needed. The southbound could be widened to three lanes only if the northbound is reduced to one lane under these bridges. That means the nearside northbound lane would have to be diverted under the Hog’s Back to meet up with the re-aligned A31 on-slip and carried through as two lanes. Both the A3 and the A31 could become two lanes before meeting at the junction controlled by traffic lights. Fortunately the existing A31 slip road is two lanes wide and it has been hatched out to make it into a single lane merge with the A3 for safety. This could be reopened as two lanes and widening starting beyond the bridge carrying Down Place.

    8. A 10-metre strip has been reserved on the university land and could be used for a two lane off-slip connecting with the Onslow park and ride en route. The existing slip road land where it leaves the A3 would accommodate a new on-slip from the park and ride.

    9. Stoke Road junction could be made all directional. The off-slip here would provide another exit and so relieve Midleton Road, the A25, of some traffic. A southbound on-slip would reduce congestion in Ladymead and help to improve flow from the A3 exit slip road.

    10. At Clay Lane an off-slip could be constructed to take some traffic heading for Burpham and north east Merrow away from Parkway and London Road that is heavily congested.

    11. It would be possible, I think, to convert the existing emergency access at Clay Lane to a southbound on-slip.

    All these ideas and much more are described on my website that could be found by searching for ‘revamp guildford gyratory’.

    It is technically possible to build a two-lane viaduct from Burpham to Compton that could take through traffic and could operate as a tidal route. A 9km long viaduct 10 metres wide would cost £350-400m but would we want such a dominating structure through Guildford?

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