Fringe Box



Letter: Waitrose Traffic & Subway Closure

Published on: 10 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 10 Nov, 2012

From Bibhas Neogi

Cllr Caroline Reeves, in her comment on my letter Waitrose Planning – Closing the subway was a mistake’, said: “Surrey County Council confirmed in writing that … closing subways is their plan for the whole county.”

I don’t know the background or the reasons behind this decision. Subways are provided for safer crossing of very busy roads when the number of pedestrians exceed a certain number and at the same time traffic flow is not interrupted by having a surface crossing.

The Department for Transport has standards for subways and although these are meant for trunk roads, County Councils generally do follow them for local roads too. Why Surrey County Council has decided to depart from the standards is not public knowledge. Are other County Councils similarly closing subways throughout the country? Standards have been set after research and assessment of risks etc. Any departure from them has to be well justified.

Cllr Reeves also states: “The intention for the roundabout by the police station to be replaced by traffic lights and the subway replaced with a level crossing is well known.” I became aware in 2010, as a member of the Transport Group of Guildford Society, of the signalisation proposal when the bus station access was to be from Onslow street for its redesigned configuration. But I did not know it was public knowledge and I have never heard of the proposal to close the subway until now. To whom was this confirmation in writing sent and has this been publicised by SCC?

Traffic signals at the Woodbridge/York Road roundabout were planned in conjunction with the provision of the right turn into Woodbridge Road from Onslow Street for entry into the revised Friary bus station. But, I believe, if the bus station is relocated out of the Friary, there is no reason to signalise the roundabout. Therefore the subway should be retained.

It is true that installing signals would create the opportunity to incorporate staggered crossings here and the subway could then be closed but if the signals are not needed, there is no need to close the subway. Anti-social activities could be tackled with increased security and any maintenance cost issue is not a good enough reason for closure.

The main issue, I believe, is the making worse the already congested network. Cllr Caroline Reeves mentioned at the Planning Meeting the introduction of a green man crossing of York Road at its junction with Stoke Road. In addition to the proposed crossing for Waitrose this would mean extended waiting at the signals and the cumulative effect of traffic tailing back on all four directions during peak periods has not been well publicised. It is possible that this will lead to gridlock.

Even assuming locals will soon learn to stay away from shopping during busy periods, the congestion is very likely to get a lot worse.

It would be interesting to know what Surrey County Council’s current thinking is on this. Maybe Councillor Reeves also knows something about this?”

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