Friday, 20 March 2015

Review of the A27 corridor feasibility study.

The 165 pages and appendices into the case for increasing the capacity of the A27 make hard reading due to the duplication and waffle in this, the latest of the long line of reports into the woes of this road through Sussex. Written by giant Canadian consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff for the Highways Agency, it goes on at length through the process of identifying possible options to solve present and future traffic congestion along sections of the costal highway.

However despite costing the UK taxpayer another fortune (reports put it at £337.000) this report has only come up with options that have an uncanny resemblance to those recommended in previous reports. The Arundel pink / blue scheme of 2003 is now back branded as Option A. At Worthing the 1993 scheme nicknamed the Worthing through-pass is now called Option F. But to put the icing on this cowpat of a report, Parsons Brinckerhoff tell us these and any further options will enter yet another level of decision making called the Highways Agency’s Project Control Framework (PCF). No-doubt for a bit of greenwash to pacify a concerned public.

So let us examine these options. With an estimate cost of £260milion the 4 mile second Arundel bypass will start some 2miles west of Arundel close to the Havenwood Caravan Park and right turn from the present 4 lane dual carriageway into the Binsted Ancient wood complex. In so doing this new section of 4 lane dual carriageway will effectively split this oasis of tranquillity and fragile ecosystem into two. Soon after leaving the destroyed woodland this alien structure crosses the Ford road on a bridge / cloverleaf junction before crossing the river Arun and despoiling the Arun valley on a 90 foot high viaduct before joining the Crossbush junction and the existing eastbound A27.

The Worthing Option F is based on the previous on-line four lane dualling proposals of the 90’s with an estimated cost range of £75m- £125m) The report admits this option would have an adverse impact on Worthing’s townscape, will create severance and will have an impact existing properties (they mean many homes will need to be demolished). There will also be a further adverse impact of noise due to increased traffic along the A27. Furthermore the consultants admit the scheme ‘would be challenging to deliver due to the requirement of online construction within the urban area.’
In our opinion that’s a gross under estimate. For a start at least 300 homes will be blighted or will have to be demolished to make way for the extra lanes. Little is mentioned about how the two roundabouts will be adapted to cope with the increased traffic. The 90’s plan was to erect a flyover the Offington roundabout; however the Grove Lodge roundabout was not part of that plan. For Option F there’s a suggestion of an underpass. (The times newspaper 20/3/15 talks about the governments plan to convert many trunk roads into mini motorways by removing roundabouts).

At Lancing the proposal is to widen the existing narrow dual carriageway from Busticle lane to Grinstead lane. This time some 50 homes will either be blighted or demolished to make way for the wider lanes. Noise pollution will affect hundreds more. As for the Manor roundabout little is mentioned however it is possible an underpass etc is again on the cards.
The report goes on to say that the study also assessed the case for combining both the A27 Arundel Bypass Option A and A27 Worthing online Option F. That assessment indicated a good strategic fit, high value for money and demonstrated a strong economic case. If these options are taken forward they would then enter the next stage of assessment and would be managed in accordance with the Highways Agency’s Project Control Framework (PCF) - the Agency’s approach to managing major projects. The options would be placed in PCF Stage 1 (Option Identification).

To be continued.