New plan to tackle's town traffic

A MAJOR bid to tackle congestion on Colchester's traffic-choked streets has been unveiled – and early estimates suggest it could cost £150million.In a report drawn-up by the Transport for Colchester 2020 group, it is warned the town faces a future of gridlocked roads unless radical solutions are found.

A MAJOR bid to tackle congestion on Colchester's traffic-choked streets has been unveiled – and early estimates suggest it could cost £150million.

In a report drawn-up by the Transport for Colchester 2020 group, it is warned the town faces a future of gridlocked roads unless radical solutions are found.

Under the proposals suggested, main access routes such as the A133 would be improved because of the dismay they cause drivers and the costs businesses face due to delayed deliveries and lost working hours.

The new plan, which is the result of work between Colchester borough and Essex county councils, also signals a shift in emphasis away from prioritising public transport ahead of car drivers.


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It recognises a need to reduce traffic growth and stop the traffic jams – making car journeys easier for drivers.

However, public transport improvements are also key to the plan's success.

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Congestion charges have not been ruled out in the longer term, but are not included in the scheme designed to cope with transport demands until 2020.

The scheme attempts to account for changes caused by the town's regeneration - including the effect of 5,000 new homes and the creation of 6,000 jobs.

Early estimates suggest schemes to tackle road congestion could top £150m.

Last night, leader of the Conservatives at Colchester Borough Council, John Jowers, said he welcomed the changes and said drivers had a right to be freed of rush hour jams.

He said: "If we don't try drastic and innovative solutions it will never get anywhere and roads will fester into gridlock.

"People put enough money into taxes in one form or another and they have the right to expect decent roads and decent ways of managing roads."

He added pedestrians and cyclists had to be cared for in the town centre but it was about striking a balance where car users could not take over the world.

Last night, Paula Whitney of Friends of the Earth said she had not had a car for 10 years and still had not seen improvements in public transport.

She said: "They are now taking away a good bus lane in North Hill and there are all sorts of reasons why that should not be removed."

She branded plans to introduce a park and ride scheme at the Cuckoo Farm development in the north of the town as "nonsense" and called for public transport for Cowdray Avenue.

In the document, the A133 is seen as one of the key routes for improvement and it is hoped by improving its traffic flow other town centre routes would be freed up.

The report details how traffic levels could grow by as much as 36% by 2011, which would be up to 418,000 car journeys each day.

Rodney Bass, Essex County Council's transport supremo said: "I have seen the document and am looking forward to hearing what Colchester borough councillors have to say about it."

The scheme remains at an outline stage with more research and consultations scheduled.

The plans are set to be discussed by cabinet members at the borough next Wednesday with a public information process due to start in the winter.

FACT FILE

n Transport For Colchester 2020 aims to tackle congestion in the town through road improvements, new links, and major improvements to the A133 corridor – allowing introduction of priority bus routes.

n There will be improvements to bus routes and rail journeys at stations at the edge of town, to encourage greater use of public transport.

n Those changes would allow then allow the introduction of the "historic core concept" where entry to the town centre by motor vehicle would be limited to essential traffic.

n Education and publicity will promote alternative modes of transport and working arrangements - reducing dependence on the car.

n It aims to improve the "attractiveness" of public transport as the choice of travel by improving services, reliability and journey times.

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