Highways England (HE) is consulting on route options for the A358 Expressway until 27 Feb. They will be spending around £300m but there is little on offer for people wanting to use their cycles. There is the golden opportunity of providing a direct quality link between Ilminster and Taunton, which we must press HE for. It is also an opportunity to substantially improve the situation for walking and cycling at J25, whether in the form of a bridge or tunnel.
To help people respond, we have set out bullet points below. You can respond to HE by emailing A358TauntontoSouthfields@highwaysengland.co.uk or by going to their on line questionnaire. The questionnaire is rather detailed but you can put comments in Q12 and miss the detailed questions, if you wish. The questionnaire is at https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/taunton-to-southfields-dualling-scheme/consultation/intro/
The options and further information can be seen at http://roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a358-taunton-to-southfields/
Brochures are also available at Taunton Library.
If you respond, so you do us a quick email at email@example.com so that we can track the level of response. Thanks!
TACC’s comments in response to the A358 consultation
- Good quality cycling infrastructure should be an essential feature of the scheme: to protect existing lanes/routes, deal with the barrier effect of existing A358 and provide real improvements in the cycling network.
- There is latent demand to cycle Ilminster-Taunton. Existing road are very hostile. Safe route within A358 corridor needed with a cyclepath running alongside the new road. Pink option could enable space to be provided on the old road on the northern section. The HE are proposing to signpost country lanes as an alternative to the A358. These lanes get very dirty in the winter and aren’t always safe. HE should provide a purpose built path (especially as they will probably try to ban cycling on the A358).
- Issues of crossing A358 for Horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians. Locations include: Ilton -Broadway; Ilton-Ashill; Ashill-Stawley; Battens Green-Caplan; Hatch Beauchamp-Bickenhill; Ash Cross; Ruishdon-Henlade. Improved, safer crossings are needed. Page 16 of the brochure suggests that some of these locations will be addressed with bridge crossings and this should be confirmed as a commitment from HE.
- On the pink route, there is an inconsistency between the text in page 11 which says local road crossings will be bridges, and the diagram which raises doubts by using the word ’ possible’. Crossings should be provided and safe crossings will be needed at junctions B and C for walking, cycling, horse riding in line with IAN 195 in relation to cycling provision.
- On the orange and blue routes routes there is an inconsistency between the text which says local road crossings will be bridges at Ash Cross, Stoke Hill, Shoreditch, Stoke Road, and the diagram which raises doubts by using the word ’possible’. Crossings should be provided and safe crossings will be needed at junctions D and E for walking, cycling, horse riding in line with IAN 195 for cycling provision.
- A major issue will be a provision of a direct sustainable transport link between Taunton and Nexus, avoiding a series of crossings and convoluted route, as proposed by SCC. The A358 proposal should be seen as an opportuntiy to address this link.
- In the pink and blue options there will need to be a crossing for people walking and cycling from Ruishton to the Nexus site.
- The Park and Ride site is not recognised in the proposals and it is unclear how the Park and Ride will be accessed in the pink and blue options.
- The highway strategy upon which the proposal is based, is flawed:
- We have been advised that the planned capacity of this new road is vastly greater than even the projected demand. The forecast 2 way flow in 2038 is 26,000, well below the 32,000 theoretical capacity for a single carriageway road, showing that a dual carriageway with 64,000 capacity would be a vast over provision.
- The extra traffic it would induce in the Taunton catchment area would place significant extra traffic on the Taunton network, to the detriment of non-motorised users, such as cyclists.
- The Benefit Cost Ratios (BCRs) on all 3 options are poor, ranging 1.64 to 2.08. It is supposed to be a government requirement that the BCR is a minimum of 2 i.e. the benefits (the monetised value of motorists time savings ) are double the construction costs of the road. Costs will inevitably increase, so the actual BCRs will be less in practice. BCRs ignore environmental costs.
- While we recognise the strategic desire for a second motorway/expressway link to the south west peninsula, none of the A358 options provides the desired network reliability to the south west, as the M5 between Taunton and the A30/A38 west of Exeter would be the single motorway route to the peninsula. In the event of an incident on the M5 west of Taunton leading to the closure of one or both carriageways, the impact on local roads would be hugely detrimental, not least to cyclists. Incidents are fairly commonplace.
- A quality cycling network could be constructed in Taunton at a fraction of this cost, and would bring huge health and traffic function benefits, with vastly better benefit-cost ratios than this scheme offers.
- If HE do decide to plough ahead with this scheme, the pink option is preferred. It appears to impose lowest environmental damage and gives greatest relief to Henlade. There will need to be traffic management measures to discourage through traffic from using the old road. This could include cycle provision and bus priority measures.