This is one of those postings that I have been meaning to get around to for a while now because the issue was raised with me following the Champion newspaper article mentioned below. And no, before I start, I don’t have any inside information to say the Maghull footbridges are under threat.
Firstly, the Liverpool Echo has the story of a proposal from Highways England (Previously known as the Highways Agency) to remove the pedestrian bridge over the A5036 adjacent to the the Park Lane/A5036 junction in Netherton – see link above.
The Aintree & Maghull Champion also covered this story in its edition of 8th February. A quote from Highways England in that articles says ‘Pedestrians & cyclists tell us they prefer road level crossings to bridges and underpasses’.
The Netherton footbridge is of a similar construction to the two pedestrian bridges on Northway in Maghull at the Hall Lane/A59 & Damfield Lane/A59 junctions but there is a difference. The difference is that the footbridges and indeed the Maghull A59 subway at The Square are controlled by Sefton Council not Highways England.
A59 footbridge at Damfield Lane, Maghull
The question I was asked was would it be reasonable to assume that Sefton Council may come up with similar removal proposals for Maghull’s two bridges in due course?
There’s no doubt that these bridges are a product of their time and modern bridges of this nature would be constructed differently to take account of disability access regulations – the steps on the ramps come to mind. What’s more the steps in the middle of the Damfield Lane bridge are extremely steep and I know some folks avoid using them. But the Maghull footbridges clearly serve a useful purpose as does the one at Park Lane Netherton because people do use them.
Steep middle steps to Damfield Lane/A59 footbridge.
Interacting with traffic on these busy fast flowing roads is dangerous so being able to use a footbridge strikes me as a sensible option for pedestrians. And let’s not forget that pedestrians/cyclists are the most important and most vulnerable things on our roads.
The Hall Lane/A59 junction is of course infamous for red jumping by northbound vehicle drivers, that’s why it has long had a red light camera on it. But surely, if there was no footbridge here, then the worry would be red light jumping vehicles and pedestrians colliding with horrible consequences.
The concern expressed to me was that at some point Sefton Council may say to Maghull folk ‘hey your footbridges over Northway are life expired and we want to put in Toucan crossings instead’ as Highways England have just done in Netherton. Frankly, I would have both footbridges and Toucan crossings as to me pedestrians/cyclists are king and Maghull is already badly split in two by the A59’s tarmac and steel barrier.
On the wider point of the A59 cutting Maghull in half, this is a serious issue. To my mind the free flowing of traffic along Northway has been achieved at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists. I have even heard folk call Northway – Maghull’s Berlin Wall.
I recall, some 10 years ago, that a gap in the central reservation crash barriers was closed up where the A59 crosses the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This means that those using the footpath out of the end of Avondale Avenue and up the steps onto Northway, which is used to connect with the path on the other side of the A59 that runs through St. Andrew’s Churchyard, has been made far more difficult unless you are prepared to hurdle central reservation crash barriers. My point being that the hurdling is done every day especially by school children! In other words the route is still being used but as well as having to look out for traffic you have to get over the barriers too. Clearly the interests of Maghull folk wanting to get from one side of the A59 to the other came secondary here to other highway priorities.
Underpass/Subway at the Northway/Eastway/Westway junction in Maghull.
It will be interesting to see whether when the two Maghull A59 footbridges become life expired Sefton Council follows suit with Highways England and proposes removal but that’s a challenge that has yet to be put before us and possibly it never will be?
With thanks to Keith for the lead to this posting