Thirty years of the A50

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the biggest-ever construction project in Draycott’s history – the A50 road.
However, it has been thirty years of pain for some locals, so don’t expect a celebration…

The A564

In 1985, the ‘A564’ stretch of dual carriageway was opened – changing its name very soon to the ‘A50’.   It stretched from Blythe Bridge Bridge to Uttoxeter.
The project was a massive one, causing years of disruption in Draycott.  The parish was cut in half by the road, into the Cresswell and Draycott sides; and it required five bridges and underpasses to keep them in touch with each other.

A564 sign

The sign announcing the coming of the A564

Also, the ancient trackways of Cresswell Lane and Cresswell Old Lane were re-routed, which is why they look different on old maps.

But there was one huge problem: the new road was made of concrete.
Concrete is hard-wearing, cheap and easy to lay; but the traffic surface noise, a sort of intense whining, can be unbearable to listen to – as many residents then found out.

The question is then: why, in this whole thirty years, has the surface never been replaced – thus making life so much easier for residents?

Prevention

The highway engineers who built the road knew what the problem would be.
At one time (when the route of the new A50 was planned to be north , not south, of Draycott Level), the Department of Transport paid for double-glazing to be installed in houses in Uttoxeter Road, Stuart Avenue and Draycott Old Road.  The department was fully aware of the noise issue.

Even on the A50 nowadays there is a thirty-foot high embankment running alongside the road, designed to prevent noise travelling over to the Draycott community.  However, when the wind is blowing at you, despite the embankment, the noise is still pretty intense – low-level of course, but constant.  Some residents have described it as a ‘stress’ torture.

A50 bridge construction

A number of underpasses were built to keep contact between Draycott and Cresswell

But – the engineers may not be at fault completely.  It seems that they may have underestimated the huge use the A50 would get.   After all, it was actually planned as the ‘Tean Bypass’ when it was built – whereas now, it is, in reality, the north Midlands link between the M1 and M6!

Protest

For over twenty years, Draycott residents have been complaining to the government.  Studies had shown that changing the surface material would reduce ‘impressible’ noise by a quarter.

The major push was in 1999, when a petition was put together, organised by the parish council of the day. It garnered thousands of signatures, took one year’s effort & work, and eventually reached the minister in charge – and precisely nothing happened…

Since then the parish council has continued to keep in touch, almost on a monthly basis, with the Department of Transport, but nothing alters.  As one former parish council chairman glumly remarked to us – there is almost no point in keeping on trying; they have never listened…

The latest attempt was earlier this year, when our MP Bill Cash wrote to John Hayes detailing areas of importance for noise mitigation to be considered.  Mr Hayes simply replied “There are no immediate plans to resurface the A50 – as the road surface is in a safe and serviceable condition”.
As far as road builders (and the government) are concerned, concrete is fantastic.  It needs few or no repairs, and has a life expectancy of forty years.  Yes, it’s much more difficult to dig up than asphalt is – but who needs to dig up the A50?

Will change happen?

So, if all the above is true… why was the Doveridge stretch of the A50 (near Uttoxeter) recently replaced??  Well, the whisper is that the Uttoxeter Labour MP Janet Dean absolutely worked her socks off (until she lost her seat in 2010) to make sure it happened.
So… she has shown us that change can be achieved.

Also, road builders are using concrete less and less, because of the environmental issues.

A50 stretch

The A50 today

To try to put a dent in the government’s intransigence, this year the parish council has decided to change tactics.   Mark Deaville, the newly-elected council’s vice chairman, has taken on the task of spear-heading the efforts to create change.  This is the first time the council has appointed one of its own members to take on the task personally (in the past, it has often relied on the clerk to do the work) – and this is surely an advance.
Mark is a vastly experienced politician, so he is the obvious person for the job.  If you have views, contact him: he wants to hear from you.

Comments?

Now… it’s over to you.
Do you have views about having to put up with thirty years of A50 noise pollution?
If you do, join the Draycott Facebook group – and get talking!
Or … why not jot down your thoughts in the Comments section further down this web-page?
What you say could make a difference…..

[References:  History of Draycott-en-le-Moors by Matthew Pointon, pg174 / Photos courtesy of the Barry Phillips Collection ]

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3 responses to “Thirty years of the A50

  1. A50 road noise

    Time flies by… and after 30 years of noise pollution it is at least heartening to hear that the Parish Council has made positive moves in appointing Mark Deaville to take control of this.

    A little history of the A50 — The construction company was Braithwaites of Barnsley (south Yorkshire) and they are still in the business today. When strolling through the site on a nice summer day I got into conversation with one of the construction managers and I asked him who decided which road surface would be used. He told me Braithwaites – as they had the most up
    to date concrete laying equipment.
    I recall attending two Parish Council Meetings on the subject, with the Highways Agency represented by a Mr Knock. This person also attended a meeting some years later. He didnt have any news – which came as no suprise.

    At that time there appeared to be a rough guide as to what any community would be be offered in road surfacing. One could check this out in more recent years by visiting the Highways Agency Website where very many locations throughout the UK are listed. Sadly Draycott was not on the list.
    I later found out that the A50 had little chance because they needed to meet rules. In this case the requirement was that there were not enough properties affected on the Blythe Bridge to Uttoxeter section. This meant that Draycott was not even on the pecking order.
    Lets hope that this matter is resolved sooner than later!
    Bazo

    Like

  2. Noise starts at 4am

    I also live in Stuart Avenue; and in summer when the bedroom window is open the continual humming sound starts at 4am. If the wind is blowing towards us the sound is much louder!
    Linda Miller

    Like

  3. A50 noise pollution

    I would like to address the serious issue of the on going noise pollution problem arising from the A50.
    I live on stuart avenue and I can hear the road noise loudly in my garden, and when the weather conditions are right I can even hear it inside the house!
    All because of the concrete road surface.
    At the uttoxeter end of the road, a half mile before uttoxeter, the road has been tarmaced to reduce noise – so why not for draycott?
    Have we really got to live with this constant nuisance indefinitely?
    Concerned

    Like

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