Access to the Port of Liverpool – 15 years on from Strategic Access Study – Time to reassess due to Climate Crisis

I was recently asked to assist a campaigner who is a part of the fight against Highways England’s plan to build a new road right through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ask was for me to help with obtaining a copy of a 2004 report on the options for transport access to the Port of Liverpool.

Rimrose Valley Country Park on a lovely Sunday morning. A Lone cyclist can be seen in the distance.

Firstly, I had to obtain a copy of the report and with a little help that was achieved.

The report is titled ‘PORT OF LIVERPOOL STRATEGIC TRANSPORT ACCESS STUDY Phase 3 Final Report’. It looked at 3 options for providing improved access to the Port of Liverpool and it comes down on the side of putting a new road through the Rimrose Valley. This is of course the option now being pursued by Highways England and which is causing so much controversy and objections.

I think it fair to say that I’m a big supporter of Rimrose Valley Country Park and love cycling through it, so it could be said that my opinions are somewhat biased in favour of the campaign group Rimrose Valley Friends who are leading the fight against the new road. In other words I’m not claiming that this piece is of an independent nature.

The report summarises the work undertaken by a team of consultants, lead by FaberMaunsell, for the study’s steering group comprising: • Sefton Borough Council; • Liverpool City Council; • Highways Agency (now Highways England); • Strategic Rail Authority; • Merseytravel; and • Atlantic Gateway.

Three strategies emerged from this work:

• Strategy 1 (Modal Transfer, Mitigation And Management) – to maximise the benefits and improvements where major highway investment is considered either unacceptable or undeliverable. This strategy combines rail and public passenger transport initiatives with traffic management, environmental mitigation and policy and enforcement but no significant investment in highway infrastructure which would generate additional capacity.

• Strategy 2 (Highway – A5036(T) On Line Improvements) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with link and junction improvements principally on the A5036 (T) to improve capacity within the corridor and therefore reduce delay and congestion.

• Strategy 3 (Major Highway – Rimrose Valley) – taking the best elements of Strategy 1 and combining them with the construction of a new road through the Rimrose Valley from Switch Island to the Princess Way/Bridge Road roundabout to relieve the existing key routes of a significant proportion of the port-bound traffic.

Clearly, there’s a danger of reading a 15 year old report and thinking that all it looked at then (agree with its conclusions or not) is just as relevant now. The big issue is of course the climate change/crisis we are facing and the need to restrict/cease use of petrol and diesel engined vehicles. This is now a matter of public policy, as opposed it being an issue within scientific and environmental community as it was back in the early 2000’s. For me this very real green issue is, without considering any other matter, a clear reason to re-examine what the options should be to improve access to the Port of Liverpool. And of course the recent delay in constructing the new road, caused by the legal action taken to stop it, has created a time frame which could be used to conduct a reassessment, so there really is no excuse for pursuing a project that in effect predates our climate crisis.

All walking and cycling destinations from the main cycle path in the Country Park.

I don’t think I learned a great deal more than I knew already from re-reading the report (with 15 years between reads) but all the same it was useful to reacquaint myself with the detail. I hope the report is of use to the Rimrose Valley Friends in their campaign work.

I had another lovely cycle ride through Rimrose Valley on the 4th August.

Switch Island – Highways England seem to have stopped celebrating it

Most folk do not walk or cycle around the now infamous Switch Island where the M57 & M58 Motorways join with the A59, A5036 and the new(ish) Brooms Cross Road but it’s quite possible and even safe to do so. Indeed it’s probably safer than driving around it based on the almost daily road traffic accidents that happen there. However, if you do walk or cycle it you will come across this large boulder with 2 metal plaques set into it:-

The plaques record the 1st and 2nd phases of the reconstruction of the junction in 1998 and 2006. But what about the other phases? I think there have been 2 additional ones – one when Brooms Cross Road was joined to it and then very recently when major re-signage and safety changes were made. Now it could be that austerity means there’s no money for additional plaques, or the boulder’s not big enough for additional ones, or despite all the phases and changes the damn thing (the island not the boulder) is a bit of an embarrassment to Highways England so they are trying to keep a low profile? All 3 are, I’m willing to believe, potentially the case of course.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Rimrose Valley Country Park News

Rimrose Valley Country Park

Please access the link below for the latest news from Rimrose Valley Friends about their environmental work and campaign to try to stop Highways England building a new access road to the Port of Liverpool through their beautiful county park:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/wildflower-meadow-friends-of-the-earth-support-and-more/

Leeds Liverpool Canal through Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Switch Island – Lots of public money spent BUT will it be any safer?

Anyone who tries to negotiate the hugely complex Switch Island will have seen that the recent upgrade/safety works by Highways England have all but been completed. The big question now is will it be any safer?

I’ve commented on this matter many times before as both a driver and indeed as a cyclist as I have witnessed driver behaviour.

To sum up, the problems as I have seen them are:-

* Too higher speeds approaching the junction
* Red light running/jumping
* Confused drivers veering from lane to lane
* Impatient regular users not allowing for the confused/lost drivers

One issue that comes quickly to mind is that towards the end of the M57 the speed has recently been reduced to 50mph and then even nearer to Switch Island to 40mph. That these new speed restrictions are almost completely ignored, you will not be surprised to hear, is pretty much all of the time. Indeed, the other day I reached the 50mph section, I slowed to 50 mph and had a horn blown at me because I had slowed down a fellow driver! My point being why are there not speed cameras on the approaches to Switch Island like at the end of the M62 as you near the Rocket in Liverpool?

Oh and another thing, this time from a cyclists perspective. Why have the street lamps which foul the cycle path around one part of Switch Island not been re-sited? Highways England have known about the problem for quite some time now:-

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Are Sefton Tories backing Highways England plan for new road through it?

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

Defending Rimrose Valley Country Park from having a new road forced through it is a matter close to the hearts of many local people in Sefton Borough. To me, it’s always been an obvious and firm no on environmental grounds.

And then Keith Page brought my attention (see link below) to this article on the Liverpool Echo website:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/tory-councillor-wants-new-road-15499566

Rimrose in the foreground and its threat in the background

Does this mean that the official policy of Sefton Tories is to back the new road or are the comments of the Formby Conservative Councillor just his own views?

But what about the reason given for wanting the new road! Really, keeping our local country park free from vehicles is a far, far higher priority. Time for Sefton Tories to clarify their stance on this new road project – Are they backing it?

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Where’s that unwelcome new road proposal up to?

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

The things you find when Bob is deep into transportation research in this case via the Built bEnvironment Networking web site.

www.built-environment-networking.com/manchester-metro-expansion/

Tucked away in an article about Manchester’s expected 2040 strategy refresh (see link above) this quote pops up:

“Tim Gamon, regional delivery director at Highways England said the agency is currently developing scheme for Road Priority 2, which will cover its investment programme from 2020 to 2025.

Projects due to start work in March 2020 are a £135m congestion relief scheme on the A585 between Windy Harbour and Skippool, £52.8m improvements to junction 19 of the M6 and a £242m upgrade of west –east Trans-Pennine road links.

But he said that £227m plans to improve access for the Port of Liverpool via the A5036 Princess Way have hit a setback following a court challenge.

Opponents argue that Highways England had not considered tunnelling a section of the road, but Gamon said the £1.5bn cost of a tunnel would not have met the agency’s cost benefit analysis.

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

More news on this big local issue when I get it.

With thanks to Bob Robinson for the lead to this posting