All posts tagged Highways England

Highways England will progress £75m worth of ‘small scale’ upgrades to the A27 in East Sussex, although the route could still be upgraded to dual carriageway.

Following a consultation last year, the Government-owned company has announced its preferred options for the road to the east of Lewes, which it said will ease congestion and improve safety, especially at key pinch points.

Four junctions along a nine-mile section of the A27 between Lewes and Polegate will be improved, a section of the Polegate bypass will be upgraded to a dual carriageway and walking and cycling facilities along the whole stretch will be enhanced.

Project manager Tom Beasley said: ‘It’s great to see that there is such strong backing for improvements to this section of the A27, and there were some really good ideas put forward. People’s input has helped to shape our plans and we’ve made some key changes to our proposals to make sure they deliver the biggest benefit.’

Highways England said proposals to upgrade Selmeston junction had been withdrawn after no options could be found that would deliver a worthwhile benefit without having an unacceptable impact on the South Downs national park.

The announcement comes despite a request to Highways England from transport secretary Chris Grayling to spend £3m from the £75m for the scheme on a study examining options for a larger scheme to dual the route.

Rupert Clubb, director of communities, economy and transport at East Sussex County Council, told Highways: ‘We support these small scale improvements because they deal with known pinch points along the A27 and would be in place sooner than a dualling scheme.’

‘However we remain committed to seeing the dualling of the A27 in the longer term and look forward to working with Highways England to achieve this.’

Chris Todd, local groups campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘This is a welcome announcement from Highways England, which has dropped schemes that would badly impact on the South Downs National Park.

‘We welcome the investment in local transport for pedestrians, cyclists and bus users, but more needs to be done. ’

The current plans include:

  • widening Drusillas Roundabout to improve journeys along the A27 and for north-south traffic at the junction
  • a new option for upgrading Wilmington junction, making it easier for drivers to join or leave the A27 and including a horse rider and cycle-friendly Pegasus crossing
  • widening a half a mile section of the A27 between the Polegate interchange and the Cophall roundabout to a dual carriageway, and an upgraded, signalised junction at Polegate
  • near to the Polegate interchange, as a result of the consultation, introducing new proposals for upgrading the Gainsborough Lane junction by providing a right turn facility
  • significant enhancements to the walking and cycle routes along this 9-mile stretch of the A27, including a new pedestrian and cycle path between Firle and Polegate

The head of the independent transport watchdog has called for an urgent review of the way drivers are kept informed and looked after during suspected terror incidents on motorways.

The call follows two incidents in a week where the M1 and then the M3 were closed for hours, leaving drivers trapped for long periods.

In a blog post Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said that Highways England and the police ‘have some questions to answer about how these and previous events have been handled’.

Following the latest incident on Saturday, when M3 was closed for nearly 12 hours because of ‘potential hazardous material’ on the road, Mr Smith said: ‘Highways England, the local authority and the police have a duty of care to trapped road users. Today’s tailbacks follow Tuesday’s jams on the M1.

‘Yes, in the current security climate any potential terror incident must be taken seriously. However, an urgent review is needed to improve information and welfare arrangements for motorists. Winter is coming. These incidents may become more common. Action is needed to help road users.’

Mel Clarke, customer service director at Highways England, said: ‘We worked hard on Saturday to give drivers accurate, up to date information about conditions on the M3 and to keep traffic moving as much as possible.   We set up a diversion as soon as the closure had been implemented, and we set signs and signals across our network to warn drivers on approach about the closure. All this was in place by 5am.

‘Some drivers were already on the M3 when the incident occurred and became stuck between the incident scene and the last available exit. We worked intensively to escort these drivers back up the motorway so they could leave at the previous exit and we had all trapped traffic cleared before 6am.

‘This was a serious incident and it was important that the police were able to conduct a thorough investigation. We believe we did everything we could do in the circumstances, but we routinely review our performance and will ensure we act on any opportunities to improve.’

 

The first phase of the £380m A1 Leeming to Barton upgrade will open to traffic at the end of the week but full completion of the project has again been delayed.

Highways England said that from Friday (22 September) the southern section between junction 51 at Leeming and junction 52 at Catterick will become a three-lane motorway and current speed restrictions will be lifted.

However, it said the planned completion date for the scheme has now been put back and the scheme will now be fully open by winter 2017/18. It was originally planned to be finished in June, which was then put back to the end of the year.

Highways England project manager Tom Howard said: ‘We are pleased to be able to open this section ahead of the main completion to give drivers the benefits of motorway standards as well as smoother and safer journeys.

‘This is an important milestone and means we are now halfway to completing this major scheme on this vitally important route.

‘Over the autumn period our focus will be on the remainder of the project including completing the local access road between Scotch Corner and Brompton-on-Swale and opening the new Fort Bridge which will provide and new east – west link to Catterick for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.’

Highways England said that once Fort Bridge is fully open by the middle of November, the next major milestones will be the opening of the motorway between Scotch Corner interchange and junction 56 at Barton, and between Catterick junction and Scotch Corner interchange.

It said complicated ground conditions have impacted on the method used to stabilise the embankment near the River Swale, which has resulted in an extension to the planned completion date. It is ‘working with contractors to resolve the issue as quickly as possible’.

Once finished, the full scheme will complete the ‘missing link’ of motorway between London and Newcastle, using the M1 and A1 (M).