UPDATE. Worthing – Lancing A27.
Despite all the announcements originally made by government that massive improvements would take place, there is now considerable confusion over what will actually happen long the Worthing - Lancing section of the A27 due to lack of funding.
The latest (15.09.2016) from a Highways England (HE) presentation given to the A27 Working Group in Worthing is that they are very early into the process for Worthing and Lancing and off the back of work done in 2015, Government have now said that to improve the junctions and capacity of the road, there would be a budget of between £50-100million.
The meeting was told that a lot of effort had gone into gathering feedback from stakeholders, it was also told that purchasing many properties was far out of budget so was not an option anymore. Meaning a full dual carriage way between Lancing and Worthing is unlikely. That leaves only the option to improve traffic signals and particularly the junctions.
Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB) the consultants are now working on looking at designs and modelling so as to understand costs. The consultation in public has now slipped to late spring/ early summer next year.
The meeting also heard from a local MP who questioned why more money could not be found when £300million was found for the Hindhead tunnel rather than the £70millon originally budgeted. That extra is half the bill for turning A27 into dual carriageway between Lancing and Worthing he said. Adding why can’t we find more money?
The MP continued that the accident rate along the present alignment of the road is 4x higher than it should be, usually if there are more than 12-15 thousand vehicle movements a day then a single carriageway road is turned unto dual carriageway.
The meetings Chair added it is claimed that a lot of it is local traffic rather than through traffic. Although a lot of work has gone into gathering travel data, why are results still unavailable? HE agreed to send the latest travel data summary to the Chair within a couple of weeks to see how much is through traffic rather than joining or leaving along the route.
HE confirmed purchasing of houses is premature, as is discussion of numbers. That process can’t start until the Secretary of State has confirmed the preferred route. There are no preferred options at this time, all options are under review and engineers are in the early design stage for all options.
Other questions to HE were:
Are you allowed to consider collaborative funding by councils etc?
HE - yes, if there is money available it can be considered but would be needed before doing design plans.
Question. WSCC contributed to the Chichester work but are they contributing to Worthing/Lancing one?
HE - not that we are aware.
Question. - If there were options over indicated budget, but would make considerable improvement, could you approach government about an additional amount?
HE - Chichester funding comes from a developer contribution due to large numbers of new houses – Our part of A27 does not have this opportunity.
Question. - Getting rid of lights at Lyons farm, roundabout would be better and help traffic through West Street in Sompting.
HE – it is a key junction being looked at and yes it would be.
Question. - Can you confirm that full Dualling is not an option? Could be a big problem with property demolition and blight etc
HE- if we can come up with other cheaper options then we may be able to do some Dualling. We cannot confirm for sure – it’s too early in the process
Question. - Does full Dualling mean national speed limit and also service roads etc?
HE - both have been practically ruled out on costs, but government have asked us to consider them.
Question. - Is there set budgets for certain areas, holistic approach?
HE - budgets for areas yes but amounts can be moved if projects fail etc.
Question. - Has there been a price comparison between Dualling and a northern bypass?
HE - junctions are our focus but that may lead to full Dualling at some point. – There were some early concept level costing that we can send to you.
Question. Is it better to take a Holistic approach rather than talking about a large road we won’t actually get? What about dealing with buses etc.
HE – We have spoken to rail etc. but it doesn’t seem like any more services can be run due to capacity issues.
Question. Could we have the costings etc. for the plans that were ruled out for Long Furlong improvements 1995/6?
HE – we will see if these are available.
The Chair thanked HE for attending as they left after their session.