Switch Island – Too complex and the junction with Brooms Cross Road does not work


The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

During my time as a Sefton Councillor I was involved in pretty much all the activities which eventually led to the building of Brooms Cross Road.

It all started with us marching through Thornton to try to get the new road project back on the agenda of Sefton Council. It had previously fallen off that agenda with the demise of what was then called the ‘Blue Route’. That former project would have seen a great deal of tree loss through Ince Woods and it fell pretty much for that reason. Here’s a couple of photos of us marching back around the turn of the century:-

Cllr. Geoff Howe and a young me on this shot marching with Thornton residents. My placard says ‘83% of Thornton residents want a relief road’.

Thornton residents marching to get the new road built.

The campaign gathered momentum and we managed to get all-party support for the new road (without damaging the woods) on the then balanced Sefton Council where no one party had a majority. Then I went, as Sefton Leader, to try to gain support from regional governmental bodies which existed at the time but are now defunct. We got that support.

I’ve read recently that some folks think that Sefton Council was asked to make a financial contribution to the project late on. In fact Sefton was always putting money into the project, indeed it was the promoter of the new road knowing full well it was going to have to put money in the pot.

The junction of the road with Switch Island has of course been the big issue especially as so many accidents have occurred there since the new road has been open and connected to an already complex junction.

Photo taken during the construction of Brooms Cross Road This is the Switch Island end of the yet to be completed road

I recall being shown a computer programme by the Highways Agency (now called Highways England) which predicted traffic flows and how they would change with the new road in place. I must admit to being sceptical at the time but the professional engineers said they had taken account of all the issues and that the plan would fly. It didn’t.

With the benefit of hindsight and the experience of watching what goes on at Switch Island my view is that the junction is simply too complex. What I mean by this is that new or irregular drivers encountering it have a bewildering array of signs and road markings to take on board. Unsurprisingly, they get things wrong and then have to swing across lanes, often without the due care required. Add into this the small minority of irresponsible regular users who expect to be able to fly through the junction at high speed (often running red lights) then you have a heady brew and accidents are always going to be on the cards.

The new lane indicator lights are innovative but how much they will actually help is yet to be seen. What I can’t get my head around is why speed/red light cameras were not been installed a long time ago. Surely dropping the vehicle approach speeds and taking the manic red light running out via such cameras would dramatically reduce the accidents, would it not?

Does Switch Island need fly-overs? Well yes it does and it has needed them for a long time now. Surely A5036/Dunningsbridge Rd docks trucks should be able to access the M58 without having to negotiate the island/junction and the same with traffic coming off the M57 wanting to travel down Brooms Cross Road.

And a final thought, beware of those promising to sort out Switch Island because with increased traffic it may only get worse, especially if no speed/red light cameras are installed.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Rail tunnels under Liverpool – A more environmentally sustainable solutuion to the Port of Liverpool access difficulties

Liverpool 2’s massive new container cranes


The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

With all the objections to the Highways England ‘let’s build a new road through the Rimrose Valley Country Park’ preferred solution to try to solve the expanding Port of Liverpool’s access difficulties these old tunnels under the City may well be a far better and more environmentally sustainable solution.

For goodness sake expanding the rail access to the Port is the solution and the tunnels are already there. What’s more the present rail link to the Port is underused.

With thanks to Mike Penn for the lead to this posting

Maghull – The narrowest cyclepath/footway you can imagine – A59 – Northway

Cycling or indeed walking around Switch Island to go to say Aintree Village or ASDA from Maghull is a bit of a performance because you have to go around the island in an anti-clockwise direction and out of your way.

This huge vehicle junction where 3 dual carriageways, 1 single carriageway road and 2 motorways join has evolved over time rather than been planned or so it seems. It’s far from being pedestrian or cyclist friendly, indeed its a dangerous place altogether as the numerous weekly vehicle accidents prove. Highways England are you listening?

However, if you know your way around it you can just about survive walking, cycling or driving but one odd quirk of the planning of the pedestrian/cycling route is on the A59/Northway as you leave Maghull heading for Switch Island.

A cycle/pedestrian crossing was installed over both separate carriageways of the A59 some years back so that you are taken to a path alongside the northbound traffic flow. Trouble is this path is very narrow, yet it is supposed to be for pedestrians and cyclists. It is not possible for one cyclist and one pedestrian to pass each other without one standing aside.

I have raised this matter with Sefton Council and have noted that in recent weeks all kinds of spray painted makings have been placed along the path which seem to indicate that some work is going to take place. Not sure what the work is but I hope this completely inadequate path is going to be widened.

Here’s a shot of the crossing and a view towards Switch Island. The path in question runs alongside the northbound carriageway where you can see the dog walker. The narrowness of the path can also be seen:-

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Rimrose Valley – What does Sefton Council want? And that could well be a very different answer to what it says it wants!


The latest news is on the Rimrose Valley Friends Web site – see link above

Yes at face value Labour-led Sefton Council is upset over the plan by Highways England to build a new road right through the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park but just hang on a minute how did we get to this point and what has Sefton Council actually done?

Firstly, the cart was put before the horse in that the new River Berth was constructed before the necessary improved freight transport access to it had been in any way determined. Sefton Council knew this as it was involved in planning process for the new dock.

That meant that the organisation that which we elect councillors to (Sefton Council) was well positioned to be able to see what was going to happen and to seek to influence the outcomes. So what has Sefton Council been doing to plan for and more importantly influence the freight transport access issues?

Yes we know that Labour Sefton Councillors want the new road but for it to be in a tunnel. They backed that solution, which as far as I know has never been fully investigated and was not a part of the consultation process recently conducted by Highways England. So a road tunnel was never going to be an outcome of that consultation now was it? Then of course when a tunnel was not selected as the preferred solution, which of course it was never going to be, the Labour Party shouted foul we only want a tunnel and just for good measure they added that it was rejected on cost grounds and that if it had been a highway issue ‘down south’ a tunnel would, despite the cost, have been the solution, or similar words to that effect.

So Labour have the perfect get out – they hide behind the sofa whilst the freight access project is worked up by Highways England, they call for/back a solution which was never seriously on Highways England agenda then they complain when that their preferred solution (the tunnel) is not selected!

What strikes me is that Bootle Labour have not been acting as community leaders here but more as community scapegoaters. As Labour has been running Sefton Council for some years now………. you get my drift.

And the real evidence, or lack of it, is in what Labour have done rather than what they have said. Where was their community-wide high-profile campaign to get Highways England to seriously consider a road tunnel solution?

So whatever Labour-led Sefton Council now says that it wants, which may well be what many folk want to hear, what they have done and indeed not done in the lead up to this situation is actually far more relevant.

My guess is that Labour-led Sefton council has let this situation arise because it suited its purpose. I would further suggest that it knew only too well what the likely outcome of the Highways England consultation process would be.

Sefton Council under Labour is part ofthe problem here not part of the solution to the problem!

Electric HGV’s powered by overhead lines – Is it a possible future?

From this to electrically powered HGV’s?


The link above is to a photo together with a short write up on Flickr but it’s really worth looking at as it could just be a possible future without diesel pollution.

Thinking of the air pollution in and around Bootle due to HGV’s accessing the Port of Liverpool (and of course HGV pollution everywhere else too) this must be looked at as a serious alternative to us all being poisoned by traffic pollution.

My friend Bob, who provided the lead to this posting says – I think the point to stress is that this is still experimental and that there would be a host of road management issues to address such as how overtaking would be organised; how to integrate with existing cars and non electric trucks at motorway junctions. There is also a big debate looming about platooning HGVs using anti collision technologies. It may be that dedicated truck ways are the answer – similar to the Leigh busway- although the trough/ dolly wheel steering guidance system could probably be obsolete by then.

The big plus would be if the existing road from the docks was put into a tunnel – electric trucks would be ideal for underground operation.

Photo credit on Flickr link is to Siemens.

Rimrose Valley Country Park to have dual carriageway road built through it!

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.


Truly horrifying news for the environment – see link above to the Rimrose Valley Friends web site which has the story as it looks today.

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

Time for Sefton Council to come out from behind its sofa and fight this plan. For too long Sefton has acted as though it was all but disinterested in the matter. Apart from jumping on a band wagon to suggest the new road be put in a tunnel as an alternative to wrecking the Rimrose Valley Country Park, what else has Sefton done?

And here’s a petition to sign if you would be so kind:-