After much rancour and debate, Highways England will be finally consulting on its options for increasing traffic flow along the A27 around Chichester. These options will not include an A27 northern bypass after Highways England was firmly put in its place by the Department for Transport and told to get on and deliver what it had been tasked with doing.
Highways England has increased the consultation from the 6 weeks previously offered in the spring (and then extended to 7 weeks after much political pressure), to 10 weeks this time round. However, given that the consultation is taking place over the summer months, when many people are away, this is no great concession. It should be giving the public at least 12 weeks to respond.
Exactly what is in the consultation we shall have to wait and see, but most likely they will be the same or similar southerly options that were previously leaked to the press. For SCATE members, these plans represent both a threat and an opportunity. Removing the bottlenecks at the junctions will improve traffic flow and that in itself will encourage more people to drive. So quite how long before congestion creeps back again is anyone’s guess, but it may not take long unless Brexit leads to an economic slowdown. Increased traffic levels also risk adding to pressure at Arundel and Worthing for bigger and faster roads.
Finally, HIghways England needs to grasp this opportunity to address the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and horseriders and remove the barrier that the A27 has become for people wanting to cross the bypass. It has an opportunity to show how it is placing cycling and other environmental issues at the heart of its decision making and construction processes. These cannot be dealt with as bolt on afterthoughts but need to be central to the new design.