Middlesbrough Council should work constructively with local residents

© www.nunthorpe.com 


Dixons Bank & Stainton Highways Improvement Proposal

After   being   challenged   over   the   failure   to   consult   all   affected   residents   over   this   proposal,   the Principal   Transport   Planning   Officer   attended   Marton   West   and   Nunthorpe   Council   meetings   to speak   and   answer   concerns.   While   this   was   by   no   means   a   consultation,   it   did   give   concerned residents   the   chance   to   ask   questions   regarding   the   proposal.   Below   is   a   summary   of   the   Council’s and residents position:


The   proposal   is   a   ‘sticking   plaster’   approach   to   road   planning,   as   yet   unsubstantiated   by detailed   surveys   or   analysis.   It   is   estimated   to   cost   £1.7million   yet   fails   to   recognise   that many     affected     residents     will     claim     compensation     for     the     negative     impact     on     their properties.   There   is   no   assessment   of   the   huge   impact   the   six   months   +   of   road   works   will have   on   the   commuters   when   the   road   is   reduced   to   a   single   carriageway.   Realistically,   no benefits   can   be   realised   unless   further   road   improvements   are   made   to   allow   traffic   to   free flow   past   Kings   Academy   and   onwards.   Even   then,   this   assumes   commuters   will   want   to   turn west rather than continue on towards Middlesbrough via Stokesley & Marton roads. The   Council   says:   The   addition   of   an   extra   northbound   slip   road   lane   on   the   approach   to   the junction   will   improve   morning   peak   traffic   flow   by   encouraging   commuters   to   filter   west   onto Stainton Way instead of continuing straight on into Marton. We say: No   supporting   evidence   has   been   seen   to   show   that   an   additional   northbound   lane   of Dixons Bank will significantly improve traffic flow and reduce morning peak-time queuing. The   council’s   belief   that   an   additional   lane   will   encourage   commuters   to   filter   left   at   the traffic    lights    instead    of    continuing    straight    on    into    Marton    appears    to    be,    as    yet, unsubstantiated.  Morning   peak   traffic   queues   west   down   Stainton   Way   primarily   because   of   congestion   at Kings   Academy.   This   negates   any   benefit   in   using   Stainton   Way   as   an   alternative   route. There are no immediate plans to improve this situation. Commuters   travelling   from   the   Stokesley   direction   have   a   choice   of   routes.   This   leads   us   to conclude,   that   most   Stokesley   derived   commuters   travel   the   A172   because   they   need   to travel straight through Marton. There   is   a   strong   likelihood   that   an   additional   lane   would   lead   to   queue-jumping,   causing   an increase in accidents. We   maintain   the   simple   case   is,   that   commuters   queue   down   Dixons   Bank   because   they need, or wish to travel down Marton Road and will continue to do so. The   Council   says:   The   addition   of   an   extra   eastbound   lane   on   the   Stainton   Way   approach   to   the junction will help alleviate the queuing during the evening peak traffic. We say: The   queue   eastbound   during   the   evening   peak   appears   to   be   due   primarily   to   the   poor sequencing   of   the   traffic   lights.   Vehicle   approach   to   the   traffic   lights   eastbound   is   hindered by   the   build-up   of   traffic   waiting   to   turn   right   southbound   on   to   Dixons   Bank.   This   situation could   be   improved   by   simply   sequencing   the   right   turn   traffic   to   move   first,   so   clearing   the junction and enabling the eastbound traffic clearer access to the junction. Similarly,   with   intelligent   traffic   light   control,   the   eastbound   and   southbound   filter   traffic could be afforded more time than westbound traffic during the evening peak. We    believe    these    changes    should    be    fully    tested,    to    determine    whether    they    would independently and relatively cheaply aid traffic flows. The Council says: Changes to the operation of the traffic lights will support the road modifications. We say:

We believe that improvements to traffic light sequencing throughout the day could deliver

improvements to the peak traffic flow as a standalone improvement. It is understood that

surveys funded by builders support this view – we also believe that Middlesbrough Council

are privy to this information.

We strongly believe that improvements to the traffic light sequencing should be carried out as a priority and as a standalone change, to determine the effectiveness of this much cheaper and simpler option. At both the Marton and Nunthorpe Council meeting, members of the public suggested that traffic light improvements be trialled as a first option, for a period of at least a year due to the minimal impact, cost and disruption to commuters. However, for reasons best explained by the Council Principal Transport Planning Officer, this suggestion appeared to be ignored. The   Council   says:   The   proposal   is   fully   funded   at   an   estimated   cost   of   £1.7   million   (still   to   tender   as of Nov 2017). We say: It is understood that the proposal is being funded by builders who are currently constructing large housing estates in the Nunthorpe and surrounding areas south of Middlesbrough. The Council Principal Transport Planning Officer stated that the proposal is fully funded at an estimated cost of £1.7 million, although he also said that the contracts had yet to be placed. Should the proposal be implemented, affected owner-occupiers will submit claims under the Land Compensation Act 1973. These claims will increase the overall cost of the proposal. Should Middlesbrough Council intend to proceed with the proposal, affected residents will seek mitigating measures to reduce the negative environmental impact of the proposal. This will further increase the cost of the proposal. The    Council    says:    To    widen    the    road    to    three    lanes,    existing    trees    will    be    removed    where absolutely necessary ’. We say: With reference to the proposal drawing supplied, the annotation states that ‘Existing trees to be removed where absolutely necessary’. The Council Principal Transport Planning Officer, when questioned, said that he believed around 18 trees would require removal. A local inspection of the proposed route confirms that 18 trees is virtually all the trees on the east verge where the road would be widened. Research has shown [Barbara A. Maher et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (23), pp 13737–13744] that trees can be effective barriers to traffic pollution, particularly small particulate pollution such as dirty diesel exhaust particulate. Actual measurements have shown that, in houses screened by trees, pollutant levels can reduce by as much as 50%.  Given the current political pressure to reduce exposure to particulate pollution, due to the recognised harm to health, intentionally moving a very busy road nearer to homes and at the same time removing roadside trees demonstrates a laissez faire attitude to the health of the local people.  The trees along Dixons Bank give the road its important character as a leafy thoroughfare that transitions from open countryside to an urban setting. Removal of these trees would destroy this character. The   Council   says:   Construction   would   take   six   months   or   a   little   longer   and   the   aim   would   be   to reduce   traffic   lanes   to   a   minimum   of   one   lane   each   way   at   all   times   (except   during   limited   periods of more restricted control). We say: Disrupting traffic flows to implement this proposal would cause huge delays and be equivalent to many months/years of queuing time under current conditions. This should be considered in the cost/benefit analysis as £1.7+ million is a large sum of council tax payers money wasted.

Scheme Proposal

Estimated £1.7 million cost but this fails to include compensation or mitigation costs. Twenty-five mature trees on Dixons Bank to be destroyed to accommodate the road widening.  This will destroy the appearance of the road into the town. Proposal only aims to funnel even more traffic down Dixons Bank - a sticking plaster approach. A minimum of six months of construction work that will at best reduce traffic flow to single lane each way and at times to a shared single lane.
No analysis or surveys to support the proposal made available to the public Funding doesn’t include potential costs of mitigation and blight compensation claims Proposal only aims to squeeze evermore traffic down Dixons Bank Unquantified congestion and delays during the six months+ construction work
Scheme Drawing