Rimrose Valley Country Park – An idyllic oasis

Idyllic view of Rimrose Valley Country Park

With the potential threat of a road being driven straight through this country park I thought it was time to have a really good look at it. I had been previously but not for any length of time. I was not to be disappointed.

I set off on my cycle from our Lydiate home last Saturday morning quite early on a bright and sunny day. Joining the foot and cycle paths that lead into the County Park at Edge Lane I found my way via this footpath network through into what is a linear open space. It is in fact surrounded by the built up areas of Crosby, Netherton, Thornton and Litherland and ends in Seaforth half a mile from the Container Terminal.

Rimrose in the foreground and its threat in the background

You can see why Highways England have been eyeing up the land to get a new road through to the docks but what on earth will it do to this lovely oasis if they get the go ahead? I remain very much opposed to that plan but we will find out very soon what is going to happen.

What I found early on a Saturday morning was friendly dog walkers, fellow cyclists and a lovely ride through urban countryside. What’s more a very tame squirrel joined me for 30 yards or more running alongside my bike. I assume he was wondering if I had some food.

The Seaforth end of the Country Park which joins the A5036 Princess Way

Surely there can be little, if any, doubt that a road driven through the Rimrose Valley can only have negative consequences for our environment.

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Highways England’s announcement delayed.

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

My understanding was that Highways England (previously known as the Highways Agency) were due to announce their preferred solution to increasing the capacity of the A5036 otherwise known as Dunningsbridge Road/ Church Road in Netherton on 8th August.

Of course the big fear amongst environmental campaigners is that they will plump to build a new road through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ‘need’ for the increased road capacity is due to the Liverpool 2 River Berth being constructed at Seaforth by Peel Ports, a subject I have posted about many times before.

But news reached me yesterday via an e-mail from Rimrose Valley Friends, who are trying to protect the Country Park, that the announcement has been delayed until September. We are told that this follows a Highways England meeting with Mersey Mayor Steve Rotherham.

The significance of the delay/deferment is not presently known.

Here’s a couple of links to pages on the Rimrose Valley Friends web site about the expected announcement:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-due-080817/#

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-delayed/

Switch Island – That red Light jumping, why is it at such epic and dangerous proportions?

So why do drivers jump red lights? Is it attention seeking? Is it an alpha male issue? Is it inability to reasonably calculate travelling time? Is is just stupidity and not paying attention to the road? Is it simply being confused by a complicated junction?

Of course it is all of these and other factors too but for some reason the building of Brooms Cross Road and particularly its junction with Switch Island has really brought home to many of us how much red light jumping goes on and the consequences of it.

The Maghull Community Facebook Page records many of the incidents, the Champion newspaper has written on the problem too and a local MP has even raised the matter in Parliament. So it has certainly got our attention and no mistake.

Having campaigned for the new road to be built over a dozen year period or more I must say that I always had at the back of my mind that Switch Island was just going to be too complicated with another road added to it. Indeed, I recall talking to highway engineers about my wish to see a fly-over built connecting the M57 to the new road. I raised this both locally and at regional highway stakeholder events but it was very clear that the money to do this was simply not there.

I’m not going to say I told you so because that would be churlish and anyway the major objective of getting the road built was to try to address the appalling congestion on Lydiate Lane and/Green Lane in Thornton.

Of course red light jumping is not the fault of there being no fly-over but it is the cause of accidents at Switch Island. So you could say I suppose that hot-headed drivers who can’t take congestion red light jump to try to gain an advantage over other road users. In other words put a delay on the highway system and there will always be drivers who will not wait patiently in the queues – we see such behaviors all over our roads of course.

I missed my uncle’s funeral last December because of an horrendous traffic jam on the M6 in the infamous contraflow section where a lorry had broken down. We were sat there for a long long time and yes it is incredibly frustrating when you have an important appointment to make. So does this sort of incident turn those with a short fuse into dangerous drivers? I suppose it does.

But often a Switch Island you can see red light jumpers doing their thing when the road is clear. It’s as though they have no intention of stopping for the traffic lights unless they literally have no choice. It’s like gambling – ‘I can do it’, ‘I can beat that gap’ or ‘well I’m going too fast to stop now so lets go for it’.

Trouble is that the junction’s at Switch Island are big so it takes a few more seconds to cross them than at a normal set of traffic lights. Crossing say 6 lanes worth of road on a red light run is surely far more dangerous than crossing 1 or 2. And the junction of Brooms Cross Road and Brickwall Lane (the only midway junction on the new road) is also a very wide junction and I am seeing red light jumping there too.

It’s also possible that on the odd occasion the red light jumping at Switch Island is also a consequence of it being such a complicated junction – so many sets of lights, so many traffic signs, so much written on the lanes around the junction. Let’s face it first time users would usually be daunted by it and not know which lane to use. Factor in satnavs not giving clearly understandable instructions and it’s a heady brew indeed!

Oh and by the way I saw some chaps doing surveys in the middle of the island yesterday late morning. Could they be the consultants appointed by the Highways Agency?

Port of Liverpool – The two road only options on the table

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/port-traffic-route-headache-option-12556835

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

This is a matter which I have been blogging about for a long time now and I still feel angry about it.

A classic cart before the horse situation if ever I saw one. The new Liverpool 2 River Berth catering for massive Post Panamax container ships is planned, constructed and completed before any serious thought is given as to how the increased freight is going to get to and from it. You really could not make this up as a planning absurdity but that’s pretty much what has happened.

Liverpool 2's massive new container cranes

Liverpool 2’s massive new container cranes

The A5036 route that links the Port of Liverpool at Seaforth with the motorway network at Switch Island is presently the only/major corridor for freight moving to and from the Port. It’s congested, at busy times the capacity is insufficient to cope with the traffic wanting to use it and there are already big concerns about air pollution from the diesel powered HGV’s that thunder up and down it. What’s more the A5036 is hemmed in by residential areas along significant parts of it.

As I have said before there are two options on the table from Highways England, either increase the capacity of the A5036 or build a new road right down the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park! As if either option is credible and the plans seem to pit residents who live around the A5036 against residents who live either side of the Rimrose Valley.

And what has Sefton Council been doing? And where’s on earth is Network Rail? Between the two of them the best you can say is hiding behind the sofa!

Why has making new rail connections with the port seemingly been forgotten? Where’s the community leadership from Sefton Council?

This is indeed a dogs breakfast of a mess and the people left to pick up the pieces (and the air pollution) are the residents living in Netherton, Litherland, Crosby and Seaforth.

The present consultation on a road only solution needs to be brought to an end and only reconsidered when every possible rail freight possibility has been put in place.

Port of Liverpool Access – Lydiate Parish Council’s view

We had a discussion at our January meeting about the Highways England consultation that is presently ongoing. I am pleased to say we came down on the environmental agenda rather than following Highways England on their let’s build yet more new roads plan.

Lydiate

To recap an issue I have covered on this blog site many times, Highways England want to either build a new road right down the middle of Rimrose Valley Country Park and or expand the road capacity of the present A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road. This is to service the new Liverpool 2 river berth that can take huge new container ships.

Peel's cranes at Liverpool 2's deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Whilst the issue does not impact on Lydiate residents directly many of them do travel the A5036 to get to work etc. every day and air pollution issues along the route are a major concern. To increase the capacity of that road would in all probability increase the pollution. Of course building a new road down the Rimrose Valley would also increase air pollution from diesel engined HGV’s.

But what’s the alternative? Well to me it is all too clear, increase and the capacity of the present rail link to the docks to its maximum and develop new rail links. Also, electrify the rail lines so that diesel powered locomotives are not used. In essence this was the line adopted by Lydiate Parish Council which also gave it’s support to the transshipment of containers along the Manchester Ship Canal.

A5036/Rimrose Valley – formal road consultation about to start

Peel's cranes at Liverpool 2's deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

Here’s what Highways England are up to over the highly contentious project to provide increased road capacity to Liverpool 2/Seaforth Docks – see link to and extract from the Highways England web site below:-

roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a5036-port-of-liverpool-access/

Progress report

We have been working hard to complete our economic and environmental assessments.

We have used our findings from these assessments, as well as the feedback received during the public awareness exhibitions in February 2016, to develop the options which we will consult on shortly.

The options are:

option A – upgrading the existing A5036 road with junction improvements
option B – a new dual carriageway bypass through the Rimrose Valley

What next?

We will be launching the 6 week public consultation on the shortlisted options in January 2017. During the consultation period, we’d like to hear your views on the options. The consultation will help us further refine options and select the best performing option to take forward to the next stage of design. This will be your opportunity to tell us what you think of the proposals, what works, what concerns you may have, and give us any local or specialist knowledge.

Links to the consultation documents, as well as details explaining how to respond, will be available here from 16 January 2017.

Once the consultation has closed in February 2017, we will analyse all responses and compile them into a consultation report summarising the feedback received. We will then refine the option designs, incorporating the comments provided where practicable and complete our assessment work.

We will then announce the preferred route option for the A5036 Port of Liverpool Access scheme in spring 2017.

This of course follows hot on the heels of SCAR (Sefton Communities Against Roadbuilding) being launched. My recent posting refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/12/09/launch-of-scar-to-fight-road-building-plans-to-access-port-of-liverpool/

I don’t think there are surprises in the latest Highways England announcement but it is clearly going to ratchet up community concerns in Litherland, Netherton and Seaforth about this most controversial of issues.