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

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-42946503

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

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

Switch Island – Confusion and epic amounts of red light jumping

I posted about this worrying matter not so long ago. My original posting is available via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/07/04/switch-island-more-accidents/

Since then I have been watching what goes on via my almost daily travels through this most complicated of junctions. Two things are now clear in my mind.

* The junction is simply too complicated especially for those who do not use it regularly. Getting and staying in the right lane for your chosen destination is clearly an issue with much lane switching going on. Some of that lane switching is highly dangerous as it is often last minute, with no signals and at speed. You come to expect it as a regular user and are on the look out for it but a driver encountering this huge junction for the first time does not know that you have to be lane switching aware. Indeed, those first time or irregular users are probably the ones doing it.

Two particular issues come to mind – not being in the right lane to travel down the M58 from the island and also not finding the right lane for the A59 (northbound) when coming off the M57.

* Speed! Switch Island is a speeders paradise and it leads to a great deal of red light jumping. I see red light jumping every day without fail, often well after a light has changed to red. In my view traffic needs to be brought down to no more than 30mph as it approaches the Island especially off the two motorways that join it. Speed cameras like those at the Liverpool end of the M62 would one way of doing this.

If action is not taken the regularity of accidents will simply continue and lives are clearly at risk. Highways England need to act.

M57 road surface – Fixed at last!

My spies tell me that Highways England have at last addressed the terrible state of the road surface on the M57 between the M62 and Prescot junctions, northbound carriageway inside lane.

I can’t have been the only person to complain about the appalling way the pot holes have been filled in, seeming by just chucking lumps of tarmac in them and not even rolling the surface flat!

And its been like that for a long time, my posting about it is from 30th June 2015! :-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/06/30/investment-in-merseysides-motorways-a5036/

Well at least they got around to it in the end!

With thanks to my spotter Keith Page of Lydiate

Lancashire Enterprise Partnership – The Lancashire Strategic Transport Prospectus January 2016 – Posting 1 – The SuperPort implications

There’s some interesting, encouraging and indeed worrying information (or the lack of it) in this 47 page prospectus. I will cover the various aspects in 3 separate postings because they are all worth a mention in their own right.

The words Norther Powerhouse litter the document as they seem to every public sector paper from t’north these days. I assume this is to either keep or get George Osborne on side rather than the authors being enthusiastic about it?

The first thing that jumped out at me was a reference to Skelmersdale on page 12 not least because of the connection with the Liverpool SuperPort project. The relevant text says this:-

Skelmersdale in West Lancashire is closely linked to the Merseyside economy and is able to offer major sites for logistics and distribution companies keen to take advantage of the opportunities being generated by the opening of Liverpool SuperPort. This is supported by research commissioned by Peel Ports and the Liverpool City Region has highlighted the need to increase large market-attractive sites to take advantage of Atlantic Gateway opportunities.

rsz_1aintree__melling_sites

This is interesting not because it is new news but because it shows how far the tentacles of the SuperPort project spread. Readers will probably know that a huge piece of Green Belt/high grade agricultural land in Melling, next to the M57, is firmly on Peel Ports agenda for similar purposes and that Sefton Council has, for now, kicked the issue into the long grass.

rsz_photo0839

The problem will of course be how all the freight that lands in either or both of Melling and Skem actually gets to Seaforth Docks. Of course this will all have to happen in reverse too. The A5036 is the only road from the ends of the M57 and M58 motorways. Fools some years ago took up the rail connection and Highways England are now promoting a new road straight down the middle of Sefton’s Rimrose Valley Country Park as their preferred option to addresses the ‘need’ for a new freight route!

Never has so much Green Belt and green space been under more threat in Sefton, than via these proposals and of course Sefton Council’s own appalling Local Plan.

Investment in Merseyside’s Motorways & A5036

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/years-delays-ahead-merseyside-motorways-9557052

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

The investment in the A5036 from Switch Island to Seaforth Docks is not detailed in the Echo story but then again it would seem that they (the Highways Agency) are not even close to a firm proposals position as yet i.e. they are still pondering upgrading the A5036 or putting a new road down the Rimrose Valley Country Park or indeed both! My previous post of a few days ago refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/06/26/access-to-the-port-of-liverpool-getting-there-slowly/

By the way have you driven along the M57 (northbound carriageway) between the junction with the M62 and the Prescot turn off? If you have you will probably be thinking about those mounds of tarmac in the slow lane that have appeared in recent times. I assume they are meant to fill in potholes but they are are raised up well above the rest of the road surface and drivers can be seen trying to avoid them by weaving around them! Yes, I know, this is a motorway for goodness sake surely the Highways Agency can fix potholes properly, can’t they?