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 – More accidents

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/thornton-bypass-under-review-after-11563892

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

I use Switch Island regularly and am always cautious about where the new road joins it as I have seen red light jumpers taking big risks flying across this busy junction. If I have noticed correctly it is traffic leaving the M57 travelling northwards onto the new road that is involved.

But of course there is a wider problem and I have spoken to drivers who say the road markings are not clear or that there is too much information to take in and it is confusing. Take confused, often non-local drivers, with regular commuters in a hurry (some willing to jump red lights) and the mixture is a dangerous one.

My feeling is that the problems can only really be solved with a fly-over so that some traffic is taken out of this hugely complex junction.

Finally, I would add that I have been made aware of drivers who avoid Switch Island these days because they feel it is not a safe place to be. I tend to avoid Switch Island in bad/wet weather due to the antics of speeding and red light jumping drivers.

Thornton Nostalgia – Marching down the road for a road

I have commented on the recently opened Switch Island to Thornton Relief Road (called Brooms Cross Road) many times before but have just come across another photo of the public march through Thornton that re-launched the campaign for a by-pass around that community.

Thornton by-pass campaigning @2000

Click on the photo to enlarge it

It’s around the turn of the Century (I can’t recall the exact date) in this photo and Thornton residents are marching along the service road of Lydiate Lane near to its junction with Westbourne Avenue with the houses of the Lydiate Park estate in the background.

Maghull – Public exhibition about the new Maghull North Station – 24th November, Maghull Town Hall, 2pm to 8pm

Glad to see things are moving forward here following the Coalition Government giving Merseytravel around 90% of the money to build this long campaigned for new station.

image002

Please click on the image to enlarge it

I wonder how long it will be before Labour tries, yet again, to make out they are getting this station built? They tried something similar over the Switch Island – Thornton link Road (Brooms Cross Road) which was, like Maghull North Station funding, given the green light by the Coalition Government (NOT by Labour) and was campaigned for by the people and Parish Council of Thornton. Await the Labour photo opportunity, it will be coming!

Brooms Cross Road – My letter to the Champion newspaper

Dear Sir,

One of the hoped for benefits of the new Brooms Cross Road was that not only would it assist with the traffic jams and pollution in Green Lane/Lydiate Lane, Thornton but it would also lead to less through traffic travelling via Maghull and Lydiate along Liverpool Rd Sth, Liverpool Rd Nth and Southport Road.

The initial evidence of my eyes, as a Southport Road, Lydiate resident, is that this is happening and a Liverpool Rd Sth area resident said something similar to me a few days ago. Time will tell when things settle down and drivers get used to the new road.

But one thing has to be said though; congratulations to those Thornton residents and their Parish Council who around the year 2000 relaunched the campaign to get the road built. Without them this project would never have happened.

Tony Robertson
Lib Dem Lydiate Parish Councillor

PS. The letter had not been used by the newspaper as I published this posting but it was used in the edition dated 16th September.