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A New Railway Crossing Would Allow Better Bus Services, Says Vision Group

Published on: 2 Jan, 2017
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2017

An artist’s impression of a new bridge in Onslow Street that would continue to cross the railway line. Taken from the GVG commissioned Masterplan.

The Guildford Vision Group (GVG) says its proposal for a new east-west crossing from York Road to Guildford Park Road would offer possibly the best option for bus travellers in the centre of town by freeing up Onslow Street for comprehensive bus halt facilities.

In a press release the group says it generally supports the bus halts policy proposals listed on the agenda for the Guildford Borough Council (GBC) Executive meeting on Tuesday, January 3 (2017).

But GVG reiterates that a new east-west crossing would enable Onslow Street to provide replacement interchanges in close proximity to the existing bus station, due to close to allow the huge North Street scheme to get underway.

John Rigg, chairman of GVG, said: “We support on-street bus halts, and all moves to provide a comprehensive bus service, both to and across our town. With all the major developments looming, such as Dunsfold, Gosden Hill Farm, Wisley and elsewhere, buses must provide a real and attractive alternative to car usage.

“The new crossing proposed by GVG, as well as giving the centre of Guildford back to people, frees up Onslow Street for bus halts right by the Friary, along with a more attractive, “active” frontage. Covered facilities would be possible.

“Furthermore the crossing enables the railway station, on both sides of the track, to provide a proper, coordinated transport interchange. This is vital if our infrastructure is to catch up, let alone cope, with the inevitable population growth in and around Guildford.”

The GBC bus options, if approved, will go out for public consultation during January.

Separately, GVG remains concerned to see that the council is getting quality and value for money from its transport consultants. In the long-winded document supporting the agenda item there are some puzzling options investigated for a new bus station. These include demolition of Debenhams for a riverside garage and a bus station on Bright Hill.

A spokesperson for GVG said: “GVG urges councillors to give a ‘reality check’ on value for money and the quality of reports [they have commissioned].”

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Responses to A New Railway Crossing Would Allow Better Bus Services, Says Vision Group

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    January 2, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    I support the proposal for a new east-west link to connect Guildford Park Road with Woodbridge Road over the tracks and the river.

    Guildford Vision Group has not made it clear the fact that they are proposing to take all traffic to the west of the railway track and run a link possibly four-lanes wide alongside Guildford Park Road. While this arrangement replaces the gyratory, the route would require large scale demolition and agreement with Network Rail. It would also adversely affect the residents adjacent to this route.

    Guiuldford Borough Council’s consultant, having examined the options for replacing the bus station, has indicated possible relocation on Bedford Road car park site, although this requires further examination of the adequacy of access to it. However, I would reiterate that Bedford Road site should be developed as originally planned by the council instead of a bus station, as the site, being close to the river, is more valuable.

    I strongly believe that leaves Mary Road car park site as the best choice even though the consultants had barely considered it in their deliberations.

    In creating a pedestrian friendly town centre, if the gyratory traffic is dealt with as I have suggested – i.e. putting the A281 underground in a tunnel-like structure and a bridge and a flyover, as in GVG’s scheme, but only two lanes wide and terminating at Mary Road, it would be much less disruptive. It has a minimal visual impact and, of course, it would cost a great deal less than GVG’s scheme.

    In my suggestion, access to bus station relocated on Mary Road would thus have three routes in (from Walnut Tree Close (WTC) over the river, Bedford Road and Leas Road) and three routes out (Laundry Road, Leas Road and the route to WTC) rather than the single access of Bedford Road. There exists a sketch prepared by Surrey County Council showing the layout of bus bays on Mary Road car park site (without the route to and from WTC of course) but I am not able to share it for reasons of copyright.

    If the council replaces the gyratory by a two-way traffic on Friary Bridge and Onslow Street, I believe this would cause massive congestion and probably be inoperable. If the council does not go for the new east-west route either, GVG’s on-street bus bays would not be possible at all.

    The relocated bus station on Mary Road would be a better choice if the council at least builds the link to WTC as part of improvements to developments on WTC but even if that does not happen, two routes in and two routes out would be better than the single access of Bedford Road site.

  2. Bill Stokoe Reply

    January 4, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Here is an illustrative map of our plan in previous articles. The arrows are to emphasise the area opened up for pedestrians and the connectivity with the river and major pedestrians routes, e.g. to/from railway station, High Street, North Street etc:

    Illustrative map of GVG crossing

    I must dispel speculation about the road size. It does not involve four lanes. Our plan envisages a two-lane route around the centre, with fewer traffic light junctions, and with provision for pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge.

    The new east-west crossing and associated re-routeing of traffic away from the heart of the town enables many people-friendly initiatives, e.g. more pedestrianisation, opening up the riverside, as well as freeing up Onslow Street for bus halts.

    The scale of demolition would be modest but our plans need the active participation of Network Rail, especially on the west side.

    All will be revealed at our upcoming public meeting in February. Look out for the announcement next week.

    Bill Stokoe is a director of the Guildford Vision Group

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      January 6, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Would Bill Stokoe please explain how the full traffic of the A281 taken over the Town Bridge and joining the Portsmouth Road traffic would not call for a four lane road northwards from their proposed new junction? It would be interesting to see the traffic figures. Currently Onslow Street carries two lanes in each direction plus a southbound bus lane.

      Park Street has four one-way narrow lanes and it could not be safely modified to two lanes in each direction. Farnham Road Bridge also carries a two-lane road. So as Mr Stokoe says: “Our plan envisages a two-lane route around the centre, with fewer traffic light junctions, and with provision for pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge.” Well, all I can say is that nothing will move in Guildford if this plan is adopted.

      I sincerely hope Surrey County Council rejects this idea outright.

  3. Bill Stokoe Reply

    January 9, 2017 at 11:52 am

    In response to Bibhas Neogi, our aim remains to give the centre of town back to people, not improve it for cars. Our plans have taken into account traffic origin & destination data.

    The council’s own options, as set out in the approved Masterplan, call for a reduction in traffic through modal shift etc of between 44% & 57%. We estimate ours needs a 26% reduction. Our route produces fewer and simpler junctions, with longer runs between, all of which should help the traffic flow.

    We will cover this aspect at our upcoming public meeting on Feb 1st at the Baptist Centre, Millmead, at 7pm.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    January 12, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Indeed a novel idea of how to ‘improve’ the road network!

    The ‘solution’ the council and of late GVG are pursuing is totally unrealistic. It relies on ‘modal shift’ and there is no indication nor any guarantee that it will happen to the extent to make any impact on congestion.

    A true solution would be to tackle the traffic that actually has to pass through Guildford including increases due to new housing, for example, in Cranleigh and Dunsfold. Bill Stokoe and GVG have completely ignored or not understood my suggestions for the solutions.

    OK, they are innovative and apart from dealing with the congestion, they tackle the bus station and bus routes issues, and also cater for new housing at the railway station and Walnut Tree Close (WTC) area. These are as described below (and also on my website),-

    1. The A281 could be lowered underground from Millbrook to Onslow Street leaving the surface road for buses, taxis, cycles and emergency vehicles and of course pedestrians.

    2. Town Bridge is to be re-opened.

    3. Portsmouth Road would continue on to WTC widened to three lanes up to Station View junction and then one-way up to a two-way link over the river to Mary Road/Leas Road.

    4. A one-way loop from Woodbridge Road by the Police Station on to Mary Road and then Leas Road made one-way on to Woodbridge Road.

    5. The bus station relocated on Mary Road car park site.

    6. Yorkie’s Footbridge is to be replaced by a road bridge (mainly for buses to university and the hospital.

    7. Station View is extended northwards to meet up with the road to Yorkie’s Bridge so as to create an access to the Station from WTC.

    8. Farnham Road Bridge is kept two-way until the bridge and flyover mentioned below are built.

    9. A two-lane bridge over the tracks from Guildford Park Road car park site and continuing it on a Flyover to Mary Road are built. The access road from Guildford Park Road is widened as necessary.

    10.Farnham Road Bridge is made one-way (both lanes) into the town centre.

    11. Walnut footbridge replacement is designed as a single lane road bridge and used temporarily as a route from Mary Road/Bedford Road to Portsmouth Road via Walnut Tree Close until the new bridge and flyover become operational.

    The bus station can be relocated on Mary Road now to let North Street development to progress. Whilst GVG’s idea of on-street bus bays depends on the new bridge over the tracks that the council, as far as I am aware, have yet to consider seriously.

    Should North Street scheme wait for another five to six years whilst a decision is made?

    The aim should be to treat all road users equitably. It is unjust and not acceptable to enhance one group’s amenity at the expense of others. My solution is just to all users, GVG’s is definitely not.

    I rest my case.

  5. Bernard Parke Reply

    January 13, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Do we need all this pandering to the mostly through traffic. If these ideas which ever see the light of day will be decades away.

    We need to deter traffic from the town centre now, especially with the proposal of extensive house building in this part of Guildford.

    A congestion charge would not only help but it would be of a financial benefit, helping to relieve the pressure on the hard pressed council tax payer.

  6. David Wragg Reply

    January 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    No point in having a congestion charge to discourage through traffic unless there is a way to go round Guildford. This suggests a ring road is necessary, but how would it be routed. What about residents who have to drive through the town to get to their homes? There are quite a few residential properties close to the town centre.

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