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Letter: Flood Plans for Walnut Tree Close Need Updating

Published on: 16 Jan, 2014
Updated on: 16 Jan, 2014
Floodwater at the seven arch bridge in Walnut Tree Close.

Floodwater at the seven arch bridge in Walnut Tree Close.

From Rachel Lane

It is really good news to hear that the roads minister is to visit Guildford.

In an ideal world more funding would follow this visit so further essential changes could be made to improve Guildford’s road network.

Having being caught up in the recent floods it was quite frightening to see traffic at a standstill, a mile in both directions in Walnut Tree Close, whilst the River Wey, which runs along its entire length, surged over 2.5ft in one hour, quickly flooding car parks and businesses in the road.

Despite numerous calls to the Police, GBC and Surrey Highways warning them of the rapidly emerging situation,  230 homes and many businesses were at high risk of flood in an estimated 1-2hours.

I would ask that in similar events, in future, the authorities shut Walnut Tree Close, to through traffic, quickly. On Christmas Eve there was a two hour delay before the police finally shut the road and the river flooded across Walnut Tree Close around the viaduct.

It took a further hour for the traffic to dissipate, by which time it was already too late for a number of homes and businesses to get the emergency protection required.

Luckily the river did not surge while it was higher and the flood happened during the holidays. I say luckily, because in 1968 the flood happened so fast residents described the river coming in to their homes before they could do anything, and they finished up to their waists in water.

It does not take a genius to realise had the river surged when the river was higher, traffic would have become quickly submerged and the situation in Walnut Tree Close, with today’s greatly increased residential and business population and heavy traffic, critical.

When gridlocked, Walnut Tree Close is too narrow for emergency services to gain access. Residents and employees would have struggled to evacuate easily and motorists would have had to abandon their vehicles, wading perhaps half a mile towards the station to reach higher ground.

This latest flood began to force manhole and drain covers to lift, a more severe flood could have lifted these covers clear while the water would have concealed the danger, making walking or driving treacherous.

It is high time Surrey Highways acknowledged what Guildford Borough Council have included in their Local Plans across the last three decades, The need to build a purpose built road from the railway station to Ladymead.

They could utilise the British Rail wasteland, which is not at risk of flooding, and which has been protected ready for a road scheme for at least the last 23 years.

From an everyday perspective, a new road would eliminate several bottlenecks in Guildford town centre, around the station and in Walnut Tree Close, allowing two-way traffic to pass easily at 30mph rather than the painful 5mph crawl traffic has to endure each day in a road too narrow for the volume of traffic it carries.

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