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The A51improvement scheme

8th October 2019 @ 6:06am – by Tarvin Parish Council
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a51 road sign

The Parish Council had received two letters from members of the public asking questions about the A51 Tarvin to Chester improvement scheme which is due to start next year. The questions and the replies which were covered at the September Council Meeting are as follows:

Q1. Whilst the road widening at Stamford Bridge will increase road capacity between Tarvin and Littleton there are apparently no changes proposed to improve traffic flow at the A51 junctions with the A55 and Inner Ring Road apart from preventing traffic from turning right into Hare Lane. So there will still be queuing traffic through Littleton and most probably back to Tarvin at peak times. If traffic volumes continue to increase as predicted it will not be long before Tarvin experiences same or worse congestion towards Chester as now.
A1. No one suggests that this scheme will solve the problems on the A51, but it will help to alleviate congestion on the second most congested section of the A51 from the M6 to the A55. This is the reason why Parish Councillor Ford (and before him Councillor Lloyd) is a member of the group of parish councils lobbying for a comprehensive solution to A51 problems along the entire length. The PC notes that the most congested part of the route, the Barthomley link, is to become a dual carriageway.
Q2. What is the air quality measurement at Tarvin roundabout now and what significant air quality improvement is the Parish Council expecting if the scheme is delivered?
A2. CWaC has confirmed that there are no monitoring facilities at Tarvin roundabout, as there are no receptors/properties in the vicinity. Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) tend to decline rapidly away from the carriageway.
The monitoring information that CWaC does have for the A51 in the area of the scheme shows that the NO2 levels do not meet or exceed the annual objective. (The annual objective for NO2 is 40 micrograms per cubic metre.) They have however installed another 3 monitoring locations to gauge NO2 levels before, during and after construction of the scheme. Although they have installed monitoring at new locations, the annual figure will not be available until approximately March 2020, to allow time to collect the data for a full year and also to wait for the conversion factors to be released. These new sites will be loaded onto the CWaC website once data for the full year is available.
Q3. What is Tarvin Parish Council doing about trying to persuade more residents to consider walking (and then catching the bus) or cycling to Chester? What pressure is the Parish Council putting on CWaC to improve bus services from Tarvin to Chester and reduce fares so that residents will feel more confident about using and relying on travel by bus? What is the PC doing to persuade more residents to consider telecommuting?
A3. To date the PC has not done anything to encourage walking/catching the bus or cycling to Chester. This is a good idea and the PC will discuss how best to take this forward. The PC is keen to see the shared space (pedestrian/cycle) footpath on the north side of the A54 from Tarvin Sands to the A55 better used, but such use requires owners of the hedges adjacent to the footpath to cut them back to keep the footpath clear. As for pressure on CWaC regarding bus services, the PC doubts this would be successful as it believes the service to be non-subsidised, giving CWaC minimal influence. The Tarvin Neighbourhood Development Plan advocates superfast broadband throughout the Plan area in order to reduce the carbon footprint of the community (para 7.1.3 on p.30). Policy ED3 (p. 32) encourages home-based businesses and live/work units provided there are certain safeguards for neighbours
Q4. Are Tarvin residents aware that, in order to gain any alleged benefits from this scheme, they are probably going to be subject to 6 months of disruption, whether travelling by car or bus, during the construction phase of the proposed road scheme? Are residents aware that if one of the A51 Tarvin bypass lanes is allowed to merge with A54 traffic rather than give way to it at Tarvin roundabout this will inevitably lead to longer delays emerging from High Street onto the A54, particularly at peak times?
A4. The idea of a feeder lane from the A51 bypass has been dropped on cost grounds. The PC believes that spending £7m will produce tangible benefits. Regarding disruption, it is worth noting that before the decision of the CWaC cabinet was taken the Chairman of the PC spoke about the scheme. Two of the points made were:
(i) when the scheme starts, there should be no work carried out on any alternative route(s) at the same time (unlike when Holme Street was resurfaced and work was also undertaken on the road from Tarvin to Waverton);
(ii) signage on the A54 approach to the Tarvin roundabout should tell drivers to use both lanes on the Chester side of the roundabout to maximise the capacity of the road.
The PC accepts short-term disruption for the sake of long-term benefit
Q5. CWaC has declared a Climate Emergency. Road schemes should be called in to examine their justification from a climate impact perspective rather than an economic one. Does the Parish Council agree? If so, will the PC make such representations to CWaC?
A5. It was thought to be too late to "call the scheme in" as the decision has been made. It is now understood that because a Climate Emergency has been declared, a minimum of seven CWaC councillors could ask for the scheme to be called in. The PC has not confirmed this assertion and does not know if there will be a call-in

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