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

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?

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.

Maghull/Crosby – 887 & 883 red light jumpers (at camera junctions) respectively in 2015

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-junctions-top-20-red-11324096

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

Hall Lane/A59 Junction, Maghull – 887 drivers, whom I presume all got penalty tickets, jumped this set of lights on the A59 ranking it as 12th in the red light jumping league.

The odd thing is you could not possibly approach this junction along the A59 without being aware that it is guarded by a red light Camera which will take your photo and send it to the boys and girls in blue. On that basis are red light skipping drivers happy to get penalty tickets?

Crosby – And there’s another one locally in Sefton Borough – The Crosby Road South and Cambridge Road junction which was just behind Maghull’s A59/Hall Lane junction at 883 penalties putting it in 13th place.