Travelling in the north is no fun what so ever!

If only our northern Motorways were all free flowing as the M58 was when this shot was taken.

I’ve commented often about the parlous state of our railways here up north. Probably with the exception of Merseyrail they are a right old mess, but what about our roads?

If my two recent experiences on Motorways across the north is anything to go by they are probably in a worse state than our railways and that takes some believing.

Lydiate to Chesterfield via the M62 and M1 last Sunday – 5 hours! OK a couple of stops along the way for about 30 mins in total but I used to be able to that journey in 3hrs easily with a similar stop off.

Chesterfield to Lydiate via M1 (no forget that) Buxton, Knutsford, M6, M62, M57 – also 5 hours! This time with about 50 mins stopping.

On the way there we sat, I kid you not, for 2hrs and 20mins between Rochdale and Saddleworth going nowhere with the Motorway supposedly closed. Then it cleared and no one had any idea what it had all been about.

On the way back the M1 was backed up from Junction 30 northwards so we had to double back a couple of junctions to go across country through the Peak District.

And to think four and half hours or so to do just around 100 miles. If we continue to travel like this we will grind our economy to a halt even without the ‘help’ of Brexit! Very definitely it’s Northern Poorhouse not Northern Powerhouse:-(((

Maghull to Kirkby via Melling – A cycle path for Prescot Road/School Lane?

Well it seems so as Sefton and Knowsley Councils are planning to construct one.

It will effectively run from the site of the new Maghull North railway station, over the Ashworth Junction of the M58 (where there’s already a short section of cycle path taking cyclists around the busy motorway junction) and on down Prescot Road towards Kirkby. The photo below shows the end of the present cycle path as you go around the junction heading towards Melling Mount:-

Sefton and Knowsley Councils are still developing proposals for the cycle track but the project has funding secured. Construction is scheduled for 2020 as I understand it. However, construction of the first section adjacent to the junction will take place soon as part of the contract to build the new westerly slip roads to the M58 junction. This move should alleviate the cyclists problem on the Kirkby side of the junction which I have previously identified.

I’m also told that on the Maghull side of the motorway junction, there will be a requirement on the developer/s of the proposed business park and housing development to continue the cycle path across the whole of the north of the site alongside School Lane. What is being referred to here is Maghull’s urban extension on the Maghull East site. The map below may assist in understanding the geography of what i an blogging about:-

The large red area is the ‘Maghull East’ urban extension. The M58 Junction 1 is in grey – with Prescot Road running north to south on the right of the map. School Lane runs across the northerly edge of red area. The yellow area is the presently being constructed Poppy Fields, Pavilions housing developments and new station site

More news when I have it.

Melling – When a cycle path ends

Being a cyclist I get used to cycle paths ending in odd places (probably where the money runs out!) but one place in Melling just past Junction 1 of the M58 is a real pain and it’s potentially dangerous too. Below is a shot of the ending, where the cycle path rejoins the road:-

The motorway junction is behind the camera. The effect of the cycle path ending here is that a cyclist has to look right around behind them to see if the traffic is clear before rejoining the road. But the joining place is too close to the roundabout in my view, so you can’t easily see vehicles coming around it or off the M58 slip road, at speed, at all clearly.

I’m pretty sure the highway engineer who picked this spot for the cycle path to end could not have been a regular cyclist.

However, I may well have some good news about the cycle path being extended towards Melling Mount and beyond soon. Watch this space.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Melling – Giddygate Lane – Tree Cover Gone

The clearance of tree cover around Junction 1 of the M58, prior to it being made into a full junction, is complete and it’s changed the landscape completely:-

Looking towards Poppy Fields

Trees to sawdust:-)

Giddygate Lane entrance and of course the fly tippers have visited too

Click on the photos to enlarge them

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

Melling – Work starts on the M58 Motorway Junction

Monday the 5th February saw work starting on land clearance prior to full construction works to make the present ‘Ashworth’ junction (Junction 1) of the M58 a full two-sided junction.

My old Council colleague Cliff Mainey will be pleased as he launched the campaign to get this work done quite some years ago.

The work yesterday seemed to be tree clearance, ironically trees that would have been planted when the the M58 was built (around 1980) and when Giddygate Lane was diverted and made an Access Only gated road. The photo below was taken on Monday from Giddygate Lane looking back towards the motorway junction through the trees:-

Giddygate Lane is now to be diverted a second time to facilitate the full motorway junction which should have been built back in 1980. Informed opinion says that the half-junction was a financial saving in 1980 or more appropriately (with the benefit of of hindsight) a big error of judgement which is costing a lot more to correct now.