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A14 Upgrade Scheme 'Defeats' Case for Guided Bus
Date Issued: Monday, 18 April 2005
Plans released by the Highways Agency show vastly reduced benefits for the Guided Bus scheme
Recently released plans from the Highways Agency for the A14 upgrade have shown that the guided bus scheme will produce even fewer benefits for journey times than the County Council were willing to admit at the Public Inquiry. The plans also support a number of the objections raised at the Public Inquiry, which were dismissed at the time by the Council.
Objectors to the guided bus told the Inquiry that the A14 upgrade would improve journey times by up to 20% for both existing bus services and private cars, with the guided bus giving negligible journey time savings for both public and private transport users even without the upgrade.
However the County Council said at the Inquiry that the A14 upgrade would only benefit long-distance, rather than local, traffic. County Council consultants, Atkins, told the Inquiry that "local traffic will be catered for with the provision of a local access road, running parallel to the A14" and that "local traffic in the corridor will use little, if any, of the improved A14".
Atkins insisted that since "the local access road will include a number of at-grade junctions such as roundabouts", local traffic would not gain the same benefits from the A14 upgrade as
long-distance traffic on the main carriageways.
Detailed drawings for the A14 upgrade, now released by the Highways Agency, completely contradict the County Council's claims.
The drawings show that many local routes are better served by the upgraded A14 than by the "local access road". In particular:
- local express buses and cars will be able to travel all the way from Huntingdon to Milton Road intersection, the M11 or Huntingdon Road on dual carriageway, with no at-grade junctions at all;
- local traffic would use the upgraded A14 all the way from Fen Drayton to Milton Road – hardly the "little, if any" use claimed by Atkins at the Inquiry;
- the local access road includes a dual carriageway and the Highways Agency has even made provision for grade-separated junctions on the local access road at Bar Hill and Girton, so that local buses and cars from Northstowe could travel from Bar Hill to Milton Road intersection, the M11 or Huntingdon Road on dual carriageway, again with no at-grade junctions at all.
- commuters from Swavesey travelling towards Milton Road, Cambridge or the M11 would journey entirely on dual carriageway, yet again with no at-grade junctions.
Atkins are the Highways Agency consultants for the A14, as well as being the guided bus consultants.
At the guided bus Inquiry, Atkins said at first that it was unaware of the details of the proposed A14 upgrade plans. Then, when questioned as to whether some of the local access route would in fact be a dual carriageway, Atkins said that it was not sure how much of these plans had been released to the public.
"The public can draw its own conclusions as to what Atkins knew about the A14 upgrade when it gave evidence to the guided bus Inquiry," said Tim Phillips, Chairman of CAST.IRON. "The important point is that these details from the Highways Agency, withheld until after the Inquiry ended, show clearly that the case for the guided bus is much poorer than the County Council claimed during the Inquiry. In fact, as their case has always been at best marginal, there is no doubt in my mind that this development defeats it entirely."
The Council's case for the guided bus depended on their claims of journey time reductions for both public and private transport users. Objectors pointed out that the upgraded A14 would improve both existing conventional bus journey times and local car journey times, while the guided bus would not make a noticeable difference to A14 traffic levels. The Highways Agency drawings support the case made by these objectors.
An "at-grade" junction is all on one level, such as a roundabout or traffic lights. Such junctions hold up traffic much more than "grade-separated" junctions, for example dual-carriageway junctions with sliproads and flyovers.
For more information about CAST.IRON visit www.castiron.org.uk.
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