Roadworks meeting – questions need asking

At last Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen Homes have realised how arrogant they have been over their treatment of residents concerning the proposed roadworks on the A521 (at the west end of Draycott Level – see pic below).
Now, a public meeting about the issue has been arranged, for next Wednesday (October 2nd), when St Modwen planners have agreed to meet residents.A521 road closure plan (St Modwen)As we’ve been saying in our reporting, the proposed roadworks, which are to build an access to the forthcoming Blythe Fields estate & a pedestrian crossing & traffic lights, will completely close the stretch of dual carriageway (all four lanes) – thus blocking off Draycott from the A50 roundabout.
Diverted traffic will have to go through Blythe Bridge in both directions – a possible nightmare scenario of congestion, as we all know.

The works have now been postponed four times – from Sept 2nd to Sept 16th to Sept 30th, and now to October 7th.

The work is being carried out by St Modwen, but has been authorised and ‘passed’ by Staffordshire Highways Dept.
The work is a necessary pre-condition for the building of the new Blythe Fields housing estate.

Confusion

The two authorities have handled this situation incredibly badly.
The first notices were issued at the beginning of August, but councillors did not seem to realise the implications.
Only after a series of (unanswered) letters to Highways from this website did the fine details of the works even start to trickle out; and St Modwen did not even directly contact residents until September 9th (a week after the first date to start the roadworks!); while the official ‘alert’ on roadworks.org has been downright confusing and contradictory for months, right up to today.

In mid-September our local county councillors finally took the issue on and met with the two authorities to express residents’ concerns – but it is only in the last two days that the St Modwen have finally made an announcement of this public meeting – and the Highways Dept at last issued a public letter and put an information page about the roadworks on their website.

In their official literature, both Staffordshire County Highways and St Modwen pride themselves on their ‘communication’ – a claim which has been seen to be hollow.

Meeting

Seven questions at least will need to be answered at the meeting on Wednesday.
1 – Why no contraflow?
2 – Do they seriously not expect the already congested road into Blythe Bridge to become gridlocked?  What provisions have they made for emergency vehicle flow if jams do occur along this strtech of Uttoxeter Road?
3 – What does ’24-hour working’ actually mean? How will it affect the residents near it?
4 – If the ‘alternative parking’ is to be provided for residents on Uttoxeter Road, how far along are they in discussions with the car-park owners?
5 – How far back from the works will motorists be advised that it might be a good idea to turn away and avoid the works?
6 – Why was the communication on this, and the postponments, handled so badly?
7 – When will Highways demand that Roadworks.org sorts out its act?

Contraflow
Many residents have been wondering why a contraflow system could not be put in place – this would mean at least two, or even one, of the lanes of our dual carriageway could stay open, easing the congestion.
But, in an interview with the Times & Echo newspaper, St Modwen have said no – saying that such a move would lead to the roadworks lasting not the planned three months, but twelve months, and that this was unacceptable to local communities.
To be fair, their engineers also claim that deep excavation needs doing (for drainage passages) – which means maximum width work is required.

Of course, cynics might say that St Modwen are desperate to see the roadworks finished as soon as possible, and never mind the congestion. Why?
Because homes are already sold on Blythe Fields, and moving-in dates are promised for the Spring…

Blythe Fields homes construction

Blythe Fields homes are already under construction

24-hour working
To hurry the works along even quicker, St Modwen have gained permission for 24-hour working. The main heavy working will take place between 7.30am and 8pm, leaving light working for through the night. But what exactly is ‘light-working’?

Blythe Bridge congestion
The official diversion is the turn-off opposite Chandni Cottage into Blythe Bridge – past the doctor’s surgery, the Black Cock and the Co-op etc. We all know how difficult this road is for motorists because you have to zig-zag in and out of parked cars. It gets worse when buses need to get through, and even emergency ambulances struggle.
So, to our admittedly untrained eye, it looks only like a recipe for gridlock.

St Modwen are vaguely saying the answer might be to provide some off-road parking for the householders along that stretch, and then encourage them to use it.
They need to be pinned down on this proposal.

Meeting

Not to be too cynical again, but this meeting looks like just a rubber stamp situation. If the authorities were genuinely looking to consult or explain, they’d have had this meeting three months ago.
However, you never know… and we are always hopeful!

The public meeting takes place at Blythe Bridge Village Hall (next to the doctor’s surgery) on Wednesday October 2nd from 2pm to 7pm, and all are welcome.

***
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5 responses to “Roadworks meeting – questions need asking

  1. St modwen are desperate to see the road junction finished as soon as they can.
    The current access road adjacent to woodlands lane only has planning permission until 1st Feb 2020. They then have 6 months to remove the haul road and restore to its former condition.
    If the new junction isn’t complete st modwen have no means of access to the development at all.
    So the decision to close all 4 carriage ways isn’t about safety. It’s about business – and the developers need to get the junction finished as soon as they can, regardless of the consequences on local residents and the unnecessary congestion caused in Blythe Bridge.
    Paul Meredith

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  2. I am a retired policeman with over 10 years of traffic experience and until recently drove hgv’s.
    The person who dreamed this scheme up should be sacked for the incompetence of this scheme. You say there is reasoning about safety for workers. What about the safety of residents and children in Blythe bridge?
    A few weeks ago it was safe for workers digging the trench on the verge to have one lane running – and it was causing delays then. I would suggest it is about costs to the developers.
    I am old enough to have patrolled and travelled the a50 as it was when routed through Blythe bridge over 40yrs ago when traffic was horrendous in those days. What are they proposing at school times when schools on the main road turn out? The place is going to be gridlocked. And and when not, if the a50 closes what then?
    I would urge a rethink to this ill-thought proposal but I think money talks and weak willed officials and ill-thought proposal will win.
    I will make it clear that if any person is injured or killed as a result of this scheme , I will seek to hold highway officials responsible for their actions through the court system.
    I propose to send a copy of this email also to my local councillors and Staffordshire police for there information .
    My own proposal is one lane running with narrow lanes to slow traffic with speed restrictions that are enforced rigourisly. An alternative provision would have been to leave the road as it was and made traffic visiting the scheme coming from stoke to use the existing turn where Blythe residents have to use and make it left turn only exiting the estate. You should include a footpath on the estate side and a footbridge over the road by the Blythe turn thus avoiding major road works and its disruption.
    Yours. Neal Jackson.

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  3. I live on Uttoxeter Road, opposite the black cock pub in Blthe Bridge, and can state with certaintly that the road at certain times will be gridlocked. It is hard enough to pull out now.
    Off-road parking for people living in the road would greatly improve this situation while the work is being done. I am sure this can be arranged – ie village hall and GP car parks and the village car park and co-op car park. This needs to be addressed before any work is started. To me and a lot of the villagers this would be a positive move and is common sense.
    Mrs L Hope

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  4. Not a sensible time for a Public meeting, as most people will be working at this time. More like a ‘pop-in meeting’.
    Ann Price

    Like

  5. 10 weeks better than 50

    It’s 10 weeks of closure vs potential 50-plus weeks of single lane running. Ask yourselves what is the least disruptive option?
    Some short-term inconvenience is better than putting the roadworkers at unnecessary risk.
    Barry Sausage

    Like

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