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.
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