What work are we undertaking?
The work currently being carried out either side of Lodge Road includes full reconstruction the footway and installation of a new push button crossing on this arm of the junction. Once constructed the footway will become a shared space for people walking and cycling and link with the new cycle facilities. In addition to the improved pedestrian and cycle facilities we are replacing the traffic lights at the junction of The Avenue, Lodge Road and Banister Road junction with the latest technology.
What smarter technology is being installed at the junction?
We will be installing durable LED bulbs to the traffic lights that last longer and use less power. We are installing quick-release sockets for the signal poles, which will greatly reduce disruption for future maintenance. A new faster computer running the junction will enable it to respond much quicker to traffic demand changes and will synchronise with other junctions to improve flow at busy times. The new signals will provide remote control access to allow us to override the settings for events and other incidents and support giving buses extra priority (more green time) to aid bus journey time reliability.
Why are we carrying out these works?
The investment of cycling infrastructure is part of the Our Greener City Charter to help improve air quality, reduce the city’s carbon footprint and reduce congestion at peak times. These works are part of an initial £5.7m of Transforming Cities Funding that the council was awarded in 2018 and the impact of that investment has been significant with Southampton moving up to third place for the most cyclists per capita of any city in the UK in 2019. In part due to that success and our commitment to improving active travel Southampton has already been shortlisted for further funding. The aim would be to reduce commuter traffic, a 10% reduction from drivers switching to cycling is not unrealistic and would be the same as during the school holidays where there is around a 10% drop in vehicles.
Last year there was a significant programme of works across the city and this phase of works was timed to be carried out from January 2020 to avoid clashes with other works. The funding we have from central government to deliver this work needs to be spent before April 2020 when we will find out about the next round of funding. There is never an ideal time to deliver works on one of the key vehicle routes in and out of the city.
Why are these works at Lodge Road taking up to 7 weeks?
There is a huge amount of work to undertake and it cannot be done all at once. The works have been carefully programmed to happen in a sequence, and typically we will work in a smaller section so we can maintain pedestrian access, we will dig down and then build back up installing ducting and foundations, footings for poles and signs. Once larger sections have foundations, we can lay the surface in one go to avoid cuts and breaks. We can then apply lining and surface colouring, install the poles and begin feeding all the new cabling for the signals. These all need to be connected up with the new controller before the junction can be tested and signed off before it can be re-opened.
Why can’t we work 24/7 or overnight?
We have allocated additional crew to the scheme to shorten the duration and we are working extended hours from 7am until 5pm however working overnight for any prolonged period is not possible in such a residential area and outside of hotels. There are some aspects of the works that we have done overnight when we have had to close The Avenue but we have kept this to a minimum.
Why did we introduce the closures on all roads?
Enquires were received from residents in the area regarding inconsiderate driving, damage to their vehicles, excessive speeds and a concern for their wellbeing and local schools. Officers visited the site during peak periods and based on observations decided to implement changes.
Why weren’t residents consulted on the closure?
As the Highways Authority Southampton City Council are permitted to undertake temporary road closures without consultation. It is part of our good practice to inform local residents of a coming temporary road closure such as those now in place however given observations outlined above and concerns for safety both the closures and informing letter were actioned at the same time. Due to the time lag in letters being received we appreciate many residents will have unfortunately been impacted prior to receiving the letter.
Other options considered?
ONE-WAY Systems/no entry’s at junctions
We looked at implementing a one-way system but past experience of doing this has proved not to solve the issues of damage to vehicles, people ignoring signed diversion routes, speeding and resident's concerns over safety. This is why it has been necessary to close these roads in order to create a safer environment.
Closing roads from Lodge Road (Rose Road, Cambridge Road & Oxford Road) and opening at The Avenue/ Inner Avenue
Closing the road from The Avenue allows commuting traffic travelling from east to west and vice versa an easier flow and diversion route to follow. Allowing them a natural movement along Inner Avenue and along Bevois Hill, Thomas Lewis Way and Portswood road keeps vehicles along A roads which can cope with the diverted traffic. We are also able to control junctions better and improve journey times as much as possible while works are being undertaken. There will obviously be some delays, but we’re doing everything we can to ease peoples commuting times. Implementing this option now would only reverse the issues and complaints we’re currently receiving. Commuters/residents who wish to get out via Lodge road would be inconvenienced. Shutting the roads directly on to The Avenue keeps traffic on the diversion route and naturally moving in a safe manner.
Peterborough Road, removal of permanent bollard
Whilst we could remove the bollard this would create another rat run for residents and commuters to use. Where the road is narrow, we’d have to implement a priority system which, considering the likely behaviour of drivers, wouldn’t suit the environment. Residents at this location would more than likely complain about the extra traffic the outlet would create and their road being a thoroughfare.
Why can’t we lift the side road closures during off-peak hours?
This would complicate things in the area for residents/commuters and, whilst they may like the spread of closures; it would not have the desired effect. People who are not local to the area will believe they can use the routes at all times, which could create frustration and careless driving when the road is closed. It was considered, however, to safeguard the area, having a continuous closure in place is the best option.