|The two roundabouts that form the Ipswich Road junction. Making it one large roundabout is likely to mean more jams, not less|
Looking at Essex County Council's plans to "modernise" junctions on the A133 in Colchester — which seriously downgrade cycle facilities — it is apparent that the design could mean more frequent jams.
Common sense says that going from two small roundabouts to one large roundabout at each junction could lead to more not fewer "traffic locks" — even with minor incidents such as breakdowns and shunts.
At present, each junction consists of two double roundabouts, as in the picture above. These ensure that in the event of a breakdown or collision, at least half the junction is able to function.
Essex Highways plans to replace the two sets of double roundabouts with two single large roundabouts, essentially reverting to the layout that existed before 1972, but with three lanes around each roundabout.
The larger junctions may have more traffic lanes but the town is growing fast and new road capacity is quickly filled by extra cars — the M25 is the prime example.
This is the last thing Colchester needs: a £10m system that doesn't work.
CCC is especially worried about 999 vehicles getting through in an emergency, so we have flagged up the issue in a letter to key people (see below).
Why are schemes like this coming through? Because the council hasn't listened — see Colchester Cycling Campaign's call for a fundamental rethink of local transport.
If the single to double roundabout idea worries you, review the scheme yourself, then write to the councillor in charge, Rodney Bass, and make your views clear. Write to him again till you are happy. Don't be fobbed off.
Will Bramhill, September 28
Dear Sir or Madam
I am writing on behalf of Colchester Cycling Campaign in relation to Essex Highways’ £10m plans to modify the A133 junctions at Harwich Road and Ipswich Road, Colchester.
EH’s aim is to increase traffic capacity in an attempt to deal with peak-time congestion. We are worried about this on several points but we may share concern over the resilience of the scheme, especially in relation to everyday use by 999 vehicles and also how the junction would function in the event of a civil emergency.
Has your organisation been consulted about the plans to date?
At present, the junctions each consist of two double roundabouts. These ensure that in the event of a breakdown or collision, at least half the junction is able to function.
EH’s plan is to replace the two sets of double roundabouts with two single large roundabouts, essentially reverting to the layout that existed before 1972, but with three lanes around each roundabout.
Our fear is that the greater capacity will simply encourage more traffic and the new single roundabouts will affect the performance times for emergency vehicles; even a minor incident, a shunt or breakdown, will lock the entire junction (rather than just part), leading to longer delays in reaching incidents.
I would appreciate your view on this issue.
Colchester Cycling Campaign