Fringe Box



Letter: Let’s Have An Elegant Footbridge At The Foot Of The High Street

Published on: 13 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 13 Apr, 2013

From Peter Bullen

I know I am not alone in thinking how foolish the decision was to scrap the underpass at the bottom of Guildford High Street and channel all pedestrian traffic across Millbrook.

The pedestrian crossing at Millbrook by the foot of the High Street.

The pedestrian crossing at Millbrook by the foot of the High Street.

At busy times traffic backs up bringing horrendous gridlock to Bridge Street and Onslow Street, and even to Woodbridge Road and York Road, due to the traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing between the bottom of the High Street and the town bridge (exacerbated by further pedestrian crossings at the bottom of Bridge Street and another in Millbrook near the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.)

Some way should be found to allow pedestrians to cross safely at the bottom of the High Street while leaving the traffic to keep moving.

To this end, may I suggest replacing the pedestrian road crossing with an elegant footbridge or walkway. By utilising the natural slope of the High Street it need not be too steep for those with walking difficulties or heavy baby buggies.

I would suggest two fairly narrow walkways, one on each side of the High Street utilising the five or six feet of the outside of the extended pavements outside the White Lion Walk and American Express Travel Services opposite, rising gently and coming together to cross Millbrook in a gentle arc high enough to be way above the tallest vehicles tavelling underneath before sweeping in an elegant downward curve round to the left and down to the pavement outside Debenhams a little way along Millbrook.

It might be possible (or necessary) to incorporate a spiral staircase by the Friary Street pedestrian road and one on the opposite corner of High Street and Millbrook.

I wish I were an artist or architect to be able to illustrate the suggestion (and to understand the practicalities of building such a structure). In my mind’s eye, I envisage something metallic and strong but light and elegant. Definitely not a heavy concrete structure or anything too solid that spoils the view down the High Street and across to the Mount.

Traffic flow could be further improved by moving the other pedestrian crossing across the bottom of the High Street to Friary Street uphill, to the junction with Quarry Street, to allow more cars to turn left out of Millbrook before causing a tailback. It would also be safer for those pedestrians who ignore the pedestrian crossing lights and hope a vehicle is not going to come speeding around the corner from Millbrook.

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Responses to Letter: Let’s Have An Elegant Footbridge At The Foot Of The High Street

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    April 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Mr Bullen has correctly raised the issue of traffic being held up during peak periods due to the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of the High Street.

    But a footbridge has to have 5.7m clearance under it and even for the slimmest of decks, a level difference of about 6.0m means very long ramps if the current standards are to be complied with. Ramps of 1 in 20 slopes are required for a new footbridge. Ramps are however not needed if the surface crossing is maintained in tandem with reduced frequency of operation, however, pedestrians are unlikely to climb up 6.0 metres and down and would prefer the surface crossing instead. Yes, it would be shorter but on one side only due to sloping High Street.

    In my view, the subway should have been retained with the steps relocated, removal of the ramps (no longer needed because of the surface crossing), and addressing necessary maintenance issues. It could have remained closed at night to deal with the anti-social activities.

    Such a reconstructed subway, close to the surface crossing, would allow those wanting to go to the car park and Debenhams to have a better option rather than waiting too long for the crossing lights. Subway pedestrians only need to go down and up for about 3.0 metres. The other advantage is that there would be no change to the view along the High Street and Millbrook.

    I agree with Mr Bullen that the crossing in the High street could be moved up to make it safer and cater for more cars turning left and not tailing back to block the main flow in Millbrook. The existing crossing would have to be modified a little to allow crossing directly from the North footway of the High Street as well. In addition, the audible signals could be introduced for both crossings as currently they have been left out to remove any confusion because of their proximity to each other.

    For other possible improvements to the traffic and bus routes in Guildford, please visit my website. Either search for ‘revamp guildford gyratory’ or click on my highlighted name. If you agree with my suggestions, please do voice your support when opportunities arise.

  2. Peter Bullen Reply

    April 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Being a complete layman on these matters, I had no idea of the legal requirements for a footbridge that Bibhas Neogi has kindly pointed out, but I do wonder if the required ramp length could be met by a gently spiraling ramp (like the spiral caused when peeling an apple) on the river side? The drawback of that, however, could be such a structure would permanently prevent the road across the Town Bridge from being reopened. Finally, my suggestion of a footbridge was predicated on the need to separate traffic and pedestrians completely which, regrettably, would mean giving pedestrians no choice other than to use the footbridge.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    April 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

    At long last someone using common sense. But we should be asking where are these pedestrians going? If they are going to the station the height drop to the river and up the other side would soon accommodate the required dimensions. An aerial glass walk-way would save many problems, including getting wet when transferring the half mile from Train to Bus on Winter mornings

    As with our traffic problems, we need to know where the pedestrians are coming from and going to before putting in the infrastructure.

    Lets hope with the delay in the North Street plan, a census [of what people actually need] will be taken before the next round of stalled plans are presented. This would be a far cheaper option than constantly failing half reports on non existent proposals.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    April 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    An aerial walk-way would solve many problems but would such a structure, assuming it is appropriate for choice pedestrian movement, be fitting in this part of the town?

    The view of St. Nicolas Church, the old town bridge and the riverside should be preserved. The route from the railway station to the town centre would in my view be better served by a shorter walk-way along Bedford Ford connecting the Friary and then on to the North Street and the High Street.

    Solum Regeneration who are redesigning the railway station, should carefully reconsider locating the new entrance at the level of the footbridge over the platforms. All the platforms can be accessed by this bridge as could any new platform for the Heathrow Airlink, if it comes to fruition. It would make sense to start the walk-way at the same level and thus avoid having long ramps.

    The view of this structure would be relatively hidden behind buildings but view from this walkway of the town and the river would be really magnificent. Furthermore, if a new footbridge is constructed over the tracks from Guildford Park Road this could also connect with this walk-way and thus creating a pedestrian route all the way to the town centre across the various obstructions.

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    June 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I’ve recently come up with a possible improvement to this pedestrian crossing. To increase safety and traffic flow at the same time, it might be possible to convert this into a staggered crossing i.e. by creating an island in the middle for a two-stage crossing. The sketch in the link explains the layout,-

    The existing crossing is three lanes wide and therefore pedestrians take a little longer to cross: some risk crossing it when the lights clearly show that they should not. By creating a staggered crossing, both directions could have independent signals. This would improve pedestrian safety and the traffic flows.

    The single lane crossing of the southbound lane reduces the time taken by the pedestrians to cross to a third of the current time and hence traffic will have a longer green cycle each time and thus help improve flow during peak periods. The crossing of the northbound lanes will again take about 2/3rds of the current time and hence a slight improvement also on the traffic flow.

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