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:-
Click on the photos to enlarge them
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:-
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.
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
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.
As I have posted about previously that weird Junction 1 on the M58 which you can only access to travel east or exit from the east is finally to be made a full junction.
I recall my old Sefton Councillor chum and former Mayor of the Borough, Cliff Mainey, banging on about the need for this work to be done at least 10 years ago. A previous posting of mine about this matter is accessible via the link below:-
Yesterday Sefton Council, who are pursuing the project on behalf of Highways England, held an information session at Meadows Leisure Centre in Maghull so I popped along to learn more about it.
I learned that the project has a cost benefit ration of around 9 to 1 i.e. for every £1 invested in the project it should return about £9 into the local economy. If memory serves this was similar to the CBR of Brooms Cross Road which was constructed recently.
I understand that Sefton Council finally took the plunge and started to lobby seriously for the project about 4 years ago.
So what seems to have been a money saving (why else would it have been left a one sided junction?) half-done job at Junction 1 is finally to be corrected. Clearly money was not saved @1980ish when the Motorway was being built as it is having to be spent now. Oh and Cliff you were right and they finally listened to you.
Click on the graphic above to enlarge it
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
The plans are now on Sefton Council’s Planning Web Pages and can be viewed via the link above.
Interestingly the application is to Sefton Council by Sefton Council, in other words the Council is seeking to gain planning approval for itself.
For those who don’t know the plan is to turn the present limited access ‘Ashworth’ junction on the M58 into a full motorway junction.
I had assumed, wrongly it seems, that the application would be made by Highways England (used to be known as the Highways Agency) as they control, maintain and in effect own the M58 Motorway. However, the Government money, pledged a few years back, has been funneled via Liverpool City Region and as the project is in Sefton Borough (in Melling Civil Parish) it has fallen to Sefton Council to apply to itself for planning approval.
An interesting issue, which I have commented on before via this blog site, is that the final part of Giddygate Lane is to be stopped up. Presently it is a gated road which joins onto the current motorway junction. However, it is also a public right of way so access for pedestrians and cyclists will have to be maintained. The planning documents show how this is intended to be achieved.
You will need to access the planning application, via the link above, to see all that is proposed.