Request reason for change of cost of Bisham roundabout works from £4m to £1.8m and for the rejection of rush hour traffic lights

Mike Post made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Highways Agency

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Highways Agency,

At 13.02 on 15 April 2014 I received an email from the Highways Agency advising me to visit the project home page of the A404 Bisham Roundabout Improvement project.

When I visited the home page shortly afterwards, the cost of the project was given as £4 million. I rang the Highways Agency to complain that £4 million was to be spent making the junction more dangerous for the occupants of vehicles joining from Marlow Road, Bisham. I spoke to Gary and was given the reference number 17731728.

When I was preparing a letter drawing my MP's attention to this expenditure I visited the project home page again and the figure of £4 million had been reduced to approximately £1.8 million.

Can you please explain the reason for this change and explain how the Highways Agency decided to spend £4m or £1.8m making the junction more dangerous? Can you also explain why the cheap option of installing rush hour traffic lights was rejected?

Thank you in anticipation.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Post

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Dear Mr Post,

Thank you for contacting the Highways Agency on 15 April 2014 with your Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Your request has been forwarded to the relevant team who will respond within 20 working days, under reference 17731872.

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Yandell, Stephen,

1 Atodiad

 

 

From: Yandell, Stephen
Sent: 09 May 2014 11:48
To: '[email address]'
Subject: A404 Bisham Roundabout

 

Dear Mr Post

 

Please find attached response to your inquiry about the A404 Bisham
Roundabout.

 

Thank you

 

Stephen Yandell
Highways Agency | Federated House | London Road | Dorking | RH4 1SZ
Web: [1]http://www.highways.gov.uk
Tel:   01306878489

GTN:39048489

Safe roads, reliable journeys, informed travellers
Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

 

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Dear Mr Yandell,

Thank you for your reply.

In April and May I wrote to the RBWM and to Tom Proudfoot asking to see under the FOI the model assumptions and inputs used to justify the proposed "improvement" to Bisham roundabout on the A404(T). I should also like to see the safety audit to understand how the junction will be safer for drivers joining from Bisham. It is widely accepted locally that the proposed work will make the roundabout significantly more dangerous for local drivers at a cost of £1.8m.

Could you please therefore send to me (electronically if possible) the data and ARCADY modelling assumptions and the safety audit used to justify the works? The RBWM tell me that they do not hold the information.

I am aware that at least one local resident has met Theresa May, MP to alert her to the problem.

Thank you in anticipation.

I enclose my correspondence with Tom Proudfoot below.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Post

Dear Tom

Further to our conversation and exchange of emails at the end of April and my FOI request, submitted through the Whatdotheyknow wesite, I have now received the attached reply from Ed French.

I note that the RBWM has apparently agreed, on our behalf, an “improvement” scheme to Bisham roundabout costing £1.8m which will make the roundabout substantially more dangerous for drivers joining the A404 from Marlow Road, especially to go southbound towards the M4.

I had asked under the FOI to see the models and the assumptions used to model traffic flows. I am still waiting for that information. I should also like, under the FOI, to see a copy of the safety audit please.

I note that Mr French refers to Section 4.4 of LTN 1/09 (which he did not include in his reply to me, but here is the link https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy... ).This states that part-time signals can result in potential safety problems but goes on to say (4.4.2): Although a more recent study was not able to confirm the findings of the 1997 study, there is sufficient doubt over the relative safety of part-time signals to discourage their use. There is no doubt at all (see next paragraph) that the roundabout is currently dangerous and stressful. It is hard to see how part time lights could make it more dangerous.

An article in this week’s Maidenhead Advertiser, “Changes set for A404 at 'commuter hell' Bisham roundabout”, quotes Paul Harrison, whom I do not know, who lives in High Wycombe and works in Maidenhead, "Bisham roundabout is commuter hell and is a real danger to motorists. Often I can spend up to 15 minutes queuing up to get onto it from Marlow road and that's before you have to play the daily lottery of trying to avoid being smashed by a passing car as you wait for a big enough gap to drive off. .I welcome plans to improve the roundabout but at the same time it gives me a feeling of added dread knowing the queues are set to get worse and my commute even longer. Serious thought must be put into the plans and whether they will actually help motorists and not delay them even further.”

Should the current plans to modify the roundabout be implemented, the Highways Agency will have wasted £1.8m of taxpayers’ money making the roundabout more dangerous. It appears from Ed French’s letter that one of the drivers running this ill-considered project is the need to spend the money by March 2015. The electorate whose journeys have been made more dangerous will not be amused.

I should be grateful if you would please arrange for me to be sent, under the FOI, the information about the models and assumptions used and also a copy of the safety audit.

I shall be sharing this letter locally and with our MP, the Rt Hon. Theresa May.

Yours sincerely

Mike Post

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From: Tom Proudfoot [mailto:[email address]]
Sent: 29 April 2014 09:03
To: Mike Post
Cc: Area 3 Hail Enquiries; [email address]
Subject: RE: A404 Bisham Roundabout

Dear Mr Post,

Thank you for your correspondence below.

I have passed this to the Highways Agency for their review and follow up.

Regards,

Tom

From: Mike Post [mailto:[email address]]
Sent: 28 April 2014 11:20
To: Tom Proudfoot
Cc: Area 3 Hail Enquiries; [email address]
Subject: RE: A404 Bisham Roundabout

Dear Tom

Thank you for the email and for your time on the phone last week.

You write: “Traffic modelling has been undertaken to demonstrate that this proposal offers worthwhile benefits in terms of reducing congestion particularly at Marlow Road.”

I should be grateful if you would provide me with the details of the models used and the input assumptions and the outputs.

It seems to me that the sole objective of the proposed works is to speed traffic flows on the A404. This seems pointless when, during rush hours, substantial tailbacks occur at the Handy Cross junction with the M40, the A4155 Marlow/Little Marlow junction and junction 8/9 on the M4

So far as a proposed new northbound slip road from the A404 into Marlow Road goes, from a local traffic point of view, there seems little point in increasing the flow of traffic into Marlow Road towards Bisham Village and Marlow Bridge via a new slip road when 300 metres around the corner traffic flow is restricted by parked cars in Bisham Village High Street (Note, I am not advocating curbing parking on Bisham High Street!). In any case, disregarding the local traffic headed for Bisham Village, Bisham Abbey, etc. the maximum two-way traffic flow over Marlow Bridge can only ever be 1200 vehicles per hour.

For any motorist who joins the A404 from Marlow Road during the rush hour, the danger and stress is obvious. The traffic stream is relentless and motorists joining from Marlow Road have to seize the moment when a gap occurs in the northbound traffic on the roundabout. The danger of joining the roundabout to go southbound towards London is a frequent topic of discussion at social gatherings. Different people adopt different tactics. One is to wait a few metres behind the give-way line and to join at speed (this requires fine judgment), another is to position yourself on the left-hand inside lane and to drive around the roundabout towards the southbound A404 on the outside lane of the roundabout.

As I explained in our telephone conversation, any work which results in speeding up the traffic on the roundabout and which reduces the number of gaps available could easily have fatal results and will certainly increase the stress of joining the A404 at Bisham roundabout.

You say: “Signalising the existing roundabout would require significant alterations to the current layout to make signalisation practical and in accordance with current design standards.” I should be grateful if you would expand on this. What design standards would be compromised by rush hour traffic lights and why? All that is needed for local drivers is the opportunity during rush hour to join the A404 without being in fear of their lives. Rush hour traffic lights would seriously improve the safety of the junction for local drivers. The Highway Agency’s present proposal would not.

I received the notification of the proposal from the Highways Agency last week that the work was going to cost £4m. I rang the Agency to enquire further and spoke to a colleague of yours called Gary (ref: 17731728). Later that day the cost of the works was amended on the website to £1.8m. I immediately submitted an FOI request which has been given the reference number 17731872 (note the transposed numbers) to enquire why this had happened. The request is headed: “Request reason for change of cost of Bisham roundabout works from £4m to £1.8m and for the rejection of rush hour traffic lights.”
I should therefore be grateful if you would include in any reply to this email, or to my FOI request, the reason for the change from £4m to £1.8m, the model used, the modelling assumptions and the model inputs and outputs. I should also like to see the traffic light design standards and why they would be compromised by providing those of us who join the A404 at Bisham with a safer rather than a more dangerous means of joining the A404 or of crossing the A404 to join the A308.
Thank you in anticipation. I look forward to hearing from you.
I shall copy this note to Theresa May’s office.
Kind regards
Mike Post

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From: Tom Proudfoot [mailto:[email address]]
Sent: 25 April 2014 11:48
To: [email address]
Cc: Area 3 Hail Enquiries; [email address]
Subject: A404 Bisham Roundabout

Dear Mr Post,

Thank you for your time this morning to discuss your concerns regarding the improvement proposals to the existing Bisham Roundabout.

I note firstly your concern with the proposals, particularly with regard to potential safety issues when exiting Marlow Road during “rush hour” and secondly, your suggestion to signalise the existing roundabout to allow a more controlled and safer passage from Marlow Road onto the roundabout.

As I discussed, all improvement schemes are subject to mandatory Road Safety Audits (RSA), and an independent Stage 1 RSA for this scheme has been undertaken. The Road Safety Audit indicates that our proposals are acceptable in road safety terms. We will be improving the signing and markings fully in accordance with current standards for this improvement. The scheme will continue to undergo thorough safety assessment, as directed in the HA’s standards, as the design develops and Works are implemented.

Traffic modelling has been undertaken to demonstrate that this proposal offers worthwhile benefits in terms of reducing congestion particularly at Marlow Road.

Signalising the existing roundabout would require significant alterations to the current layout to make signalisation practical and in accordance with current design standards.

As I noted, I will forward further detail with regard to the above and will be pleased to discuss any further concerns you may have.

Best Regards,

Tom