Response, as County Councillor for Woodbridge to SCC’s Consultation on A12 Improvements: ‘Seven Hills’ to A1152 ‘Woods Lane’
Overview You describe the objectives of the scheme as to “improve” these 11 km of the A12 because this is the area where improvements are most needed. I am afraid I disagree fundamentally with this viewpoint.
However, I am very supportive of the cycling and pedestrian schemes proposed within my division.
Below I give my response to each of the points in your rationale. You say these works will
- improve the capacity of the major road network. What you mean is you will increase the number of vehicles but without thought as to the likely outcome of this increase (which is, ‘induced demand’. As they say “Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt.”).
- reduce congestion and improve journey time reliability on the A12 by putting traffic lights on roundabouts – This was so unsuccessful on the Kesgrave Road, that as I recall, they were removed shortly afterwards. Is this a wise idea on the main artery along the Suffolk Coast?
- improve connectivity to the region’s ports. There are no ports between Seven Hills and Woods Lane: surely improvement to connectivity could be better focussed?
- support local economic growth and the creation of jobs. How? By the physical act of building these roads? Surely it will just be just moving people from one place to another?
- support the delivery of planned housing growth. Would it not be better to plan for wholly sustainable transport for these planned houses? I note with sorrow that in this consultation public transport measures are – as ever – without substance, and called “potential measures” rather than “proposals”.
- support the visitor economy. How? (See below)
- support the Energy Coast. Here is a strange anomaly. The Energy Coast is what SCC has recently rechristened the erstwhile Heritage Coast. These two Coasts cannot exist side by side. This dichotomy of intention (more Energy = less Heritage) will hardly support the visitor economy, – particularly considering the building of Sizewell C and the Friston sub-station – plus the energy delivery pathways over the next 10 years.
- mitigate the traffic impacts of the proposed Sizewell C development – This is an interesting intention as it apparently exists despite both Suffolk residents and administration having reiterated their concerns about having Sizewell C construction delivered by road. Eg on Sept 11 2020, SCC Cabinet member Richard Rout , in rejecting EDF’s plans, said: “We remain very disappointed that the transport strategy presented by EDF Energy relies heavily on road-based haulage for materials. In its current form, we don’t believe it is a sustainable solution with its massive impact on the environment and our communities”. It seems almost as if you are running with the hare and chasing with the hounds?
- support and encourage walking and cycling. This is a great intention and in many ways it will – at least it will in my division. However, it seems the proposal is also likely to encourage rat-runners from the A12, angered by the new lights, through local towns and country roads.
- improve services for bus users . I cannot see how these proposals do anything concrete to improve services for bus users? You need to have a substantive and usable bus policy to improve services for bus users , and this is currently far from the case. How many scheduled buses now travel regularly between the rural areas beyond Woodbridge and Ipswich, as opposed to the number that came five, ten years ago? You cannot improve something by consistently undermining and overlooking it. Longterm proposals based upon a thorough review of everybody’s transport requirements along the A1214 corridor between Ipswich and rural areas beyond Woodbridge need to be included in this consultation.
Benefits We are told that the overall benefits of the scheme are by targeting improvements where they are most needed: along an 11km length of the A12.
First of all I query, with £60m to spend, why they are most needed here? The A12 is the main artery along the coast. Much of it is single carriage. A lot of it is used both for business and tourism. A lot of it will be deeply impacted by building Sizewell C. Why is this particular 11 km the 11 km where improvements are most needed?
You say “you are confident that the scheme will deliver significant improvements for road users, businesses and the local community. It will help bus services, pedestrians and cyclists, enable committed and planned development to take place and help keep Suffolk connected to the rest of the country for business and tourism.” As I have pointed out above I do not share your optimism.
For example, there has been no attempt to make clear the full scale, type and location of the committed and planned developments. Surely this is essential before any full assessment of the costs and benefits of the scheme can be made?
I am also concerned that this consultation is being made without any environmental impact assessment. Surely it needs to articulate a reduction in pollution (vehicle exhaust emissions, particulates, noise pollution, and damage to ecological diversity) if the three tiers of local government’s declarations of climate emergency are being taken seriously? An EIA should underpin any proposal made about enhancing roads and transport, yet the consultation suggests that an EIA “may” be required. There should be no “may” about it.’ Having no EIA is inconsistent with the County Council’s commitment to both the environment and sustainable development.
In addition to the EIA, surely the consultation should also consider mitigation measures (such things as low noise road surfaces, planting to absorb noise and pollution, and wildlife corridors accompanying crossings).
The above is by way of being a prolegomena.
My particular concern is the portion of the A12 which sits between the B1438 roundabout and Woods Lane. You describe this generally in the following section:
The A12 is busy and congested, not only at peak periods on weekdays, but also at weekends and during the summer when traffic levels are increased by holiday traffic heading for the coast.
Most of this part of the A12 is a dual carriageway, however, there is a length of single lane carriageway near Woodbridge between Seckford Hall Road and the B1079 Grundisburgh Road (junction G). The transition from dual to single carriageway creates a pinch-point for northbound traffic, causing queues to back up at busy times.
Congestion, queueing and delay can also cause problems for people using the roads that lead to and from the A12. People need to be able to join the route, or cross it, to travel to or from residential areas such as Martlesham Heath, employment areas, such as Adastral Park, schools and shopping areas and between Woodbridge, Martlesham and Melton.
1) I am pleased to see the proposed pedestrian/cycle overbridge across the B1438.
I am however, saddened to notice that the footpath across the A12 just west of this roundabout that links old Top Street with the PROW in front of Seckford Hall is still unacknowledged and will remain as dangerous to pedestrians as ever. It should have been tunnelled when the other one further west was. There is still time.
2) I am also pleased to see the proposed new controlled crossing at the California/Old Barrack Road /Ipswich Road crossroads
2) I am also glad to see that the crossing from Seckford Hall Road Woodbridge to Seckford Hall Road on the other side of the A12 (the A12 having severed it without care or concern for local people) will now be a controlled crossing. However, I am not convinced that ensuring a smoother flow of traffic will make this ancient crossing safer.
3) I notice that the footpath and cycleway on the currently single carriageway stretch of the A12 (Seckford Hall Road to Dobbies) is being moved to the other side of the A12 – presumably because the current path will be lost in dualling. The loss of amenity in terms of trees is not referred to in any way but they are currently an attractive feature of the road. The consultation needs to make clear as to your intentions about these trees.
However I wholly applaud the segregated cycleway/pedestrian path, and also the idea that cyclists and pedestrians can get from one end of Woodbridge to the other along the A12. This will help many people including runners and FHS students.
4) I note an additional controlled crossing just before Dobbies (B1079 Grundisburgh Rd) roundabout, which will have traffic lights. I cannot see that this is an efficient way to ensure the smooth running of through traffic, although I am very glad indeed to see it as an amenity for pedestrians/cyclists.
5) What happen to northbound cyclists as they hit Bilney Road? It is quite busy and they have to join and cross it before they can reach the controlled crossing. It is unclear how this will happen.
On the north side of Grundisburgh Road, opposite Bilney Road the cyclepath is not very safe as it is tight, and for some part is ON the A12, sharing space with parked cars. It also crosses the entrance/exit routes of a petrol station. Nothing is proposed to improve this.
6) I am hopeful that the proposals for Woods Lane roundabout (which lies outside my division but well within my cycling range) will really improve life for cyclists and pedestrians.
A new controlled pedestrian / cycle crossing across the A12, just north of Junction H, the A12 / A1152 Woods Lane junction and
A new segregated pedestrian / cycle path from Woods Lane to the new crossing above will make all the difference to the cyclists and walkers who want to continue on to Bredfield.
7) I am however concerned that the concept of traffic lights on roundabouts will do anything to improve the smooth running of traffic along the A12. Rather, I think it will cause more tailbacks.
8) Finally, the consultation makes proposals in relation to Sandy Lane being a ‘quiet lane’
In Sandy Lane, access for industrial, agricultural and domestic vehicles is required between Top Street and the railway bridge AND California and the railway bridge (although the vehicles cannot always go under the railway bridge) – ie both on the Martlesham and Woodbridge side of Sandy Lane.
It is hard to see how this is as effective as the ongoing proposal to include the whole of Sandy Lane in the proposed Woodbridge 20mph and associated calming scheme .
Furthermore I cannot subscribe to your belief that changes further south to the capacity of the A12 will be sufficient to allow Old Felixstowe Road to have a scheme of calming and traffic management