Council defends dual carriageway design in Aylesbury at public enquiry after police raise safety concerns

Critics fear the council is putting 'cost ahead of safety'

By James Lowson
Friday, 24th December 2021, 11:50 am

Bucks Council has dismissed claims that a new dual carriageway coming to Aylesbury will be unsafe at a public enquiry.

A two-week public enquiry was held discussing concerns raised surrounding a new dual carriageway on the South East Aylesbury Link Road.

Following the two-week enquiry, the council dismissed the safety concerns as without foundation.

South East Aylesbury Link Road

The council has stated its desire for a new dual carriageway highlighting the need to shift traffic away from Aylesbury town centre.

Current plans which will cost £35.5 million will see a road built linking the A413 Wendover Road and the B4443 Lower Road.

Specifically, the road is expected to ease the burden of traffic on Aylesbury's Walton Gyratory caused by the A4010 Stoke Mandeville Relief Road which is being delivered through the HS2 Hybrid Act.

At just under a mile long, the South East Aylesbury Link Road will connect at Lower Road with the Stoke Mandeville Relief Road and will also connect at Wendover Road with Aylesbury's Southern Link Road.

Opposition has emerged to the design of the link road, suggesting the alignment of a dual carriageway will encourage speeding and could lead to accidents.

A Thames Valley Police traffic management spokesperson said: "The key design components show this to be a 1.2km dual carriageway, designed to DMRB (Design Manual for Roads and Bridges) standards with a design speed of 40mph.

"It includes a 3m wide shared cycle/footway on the northern side of the new road. Whilst the design speed is set to the standards within DMRB I would suggest that with a dual carriageway of this length other than at tidal rush hour times speeds are highly likely to be in excess of the design speed indicated.

"Without measures such as a signalised junction into the new developments drivers will have a dual carriageway with good visibility in which they will be able to travel at much higher speeds than intended by the designers.

"The link road between the A41 and the A413 was designed with a 50mph speed limit and it was clear that vehicle speeds were highly likely to be in excess of that due to the nature and layout, as a result locations were identified to provide positions for mobile speed enforcement vans to operate with good site lines for traffic in both directions.

"Ideally the SEALR would be self-enforcing in terms of the speeds for vehicles but I would suggest that with having experience of the previous link road this is not going to be the case.

"At this time I would request that some provision is made to accommodate the speed enforcement vans within the infrastructure of this road so there is some deterrent strategy for vehicles that are likely to exceed the design speed and posted limit on this proposed link road."

Campaigner and former councillor Phil Yerby believes the concerns raised by road management experts are going unnoticed.

He said: "I am particularly concerned that the council are putting cost ahead of safety as they refer to all the changes they can make “within the constraints of the project”.

"That is putting the cart before the horse. Safety issues should come first and implemented into the design."

Bucks Council did not provide a response to the Bucks Herald regarding the East Aylesbury Link Road following multiple requests.

At the enquiry a council spokesperson said it would make all the changes it could to ensure vehicle safety, “within the constraints of the project”.

A council spokesperson said: "The road has been curved as far south as possible and further speed restriction introduced through the vertical alignment. It is therefore considered that the design has responded to the potential for high vehicle speeds as much as possible within the constraints of the project.

"No further change to the horizontal alignment of the scheme is considered feasible."

Previously a council spokesperson called the scheme a "necessity" given Aylesbury's issues with traffic congestion.

Relief roads make up part of the plans to ease traffic concerns regarding HS2 by the A4010.

The road is seen as a key part of council plans to create a new orbital route which it believes will significantly ease gridlock problems in town.

Engineering company, AECOM, prepared a 33-page road safety audit for the council identifying several problems with the plan and potential solutions for the council to look into.

It raised similar concerns to the police summary, regarding the design of the carriageway, advising it could incentivise speeding as well.

Further problems raised considered a lack of signage to indicate the speed limit to motorists, the unclear future of cycle paths and issues with the way the carriageway merges with the roundabout at the Western side of Lower Road.

At the County Farm Cottages on the Southern exit from the proposed eastern roundabout, engineers fear that collisions may be caused as vehicles try to join the carriageway.

Another area of concerns is the proposed eastern roundabout and existing Wendover Road/ Silver Birch Way roundabout.

Where an AECOM spokesperson believes queuing between junctions could cause issues and shunting at rush hours.

Residents of Wendover Park, Stoke Grange Developments and other parts of Aylesbury objected to the plan due to fears regarding the impact it will have on nearby residential areas.

They feel that the roadworks and construction that would be launched next to their homes and open public spaces will damage the value of households on the development.

A council assessment concluded that the construction would have, "a moderate adverse effect during the first year of operation, which is not considered significant".

The council has reached phase two of the project, after the plans were unanimously voted through at a meeting in February.

An inspector is due to make a conclusion based on the public enquiry in March 2022. Following this the Secretary of State will make a decision on what happens to the multi-million pound road plans.