From The Argus –
A controversial multi-million pound road scheme for the city centre is being brought back to life amid fears it will still cause traffic chaos.
The £18 million Valley Gardens scheme brought forward by the city council’s Green administration was put on hold when Labour came into power in May last year.
Now Labour has brought the proposals back having tweaked the original designs, but sources say the scheme will not improve traffic flow and could actually make it worse.
The plans to improve green spaces and cycle routes between the Brighton Palace Pier and St Peter’s Place would replace the one-way system with two two-way roads, one for public transport and the other for private vehicles.
One source said: “For residents of Brighton and Hove who don’t want anybody else to come here and don’t want to see the city grow, it’s great. For anybody else it will be a disaster.”
There are also fears that in working out traffic volumes for the new scheme, the council has only looked at traffic flow between Monday to Friday.
The source added: “When it’s the height of the tourism season, you get traffic queued from the pier all the way back to Pyecombe and it’s going to get worse if you’re cutting four lanes of traffic down to two.
“The scheme lacks common sense.”
Transport consultant in the city Mark Strong said some elements of the design still needed to be “ironed out”.
Becky Reynolds, chairwoman of Bricycles, said the cycling pressure group was in favour of the scheme.
Sources said the plans had changed little from the March 2015 designs, with the private-vehicle road on the east of the parks widening to two lanes at junctions to ease traffic flow.
But for a key stretch from North Road to Richmond Parade cars will still queue along a single lane of traffic each way – because the road could not be widened due to a desire to preserve the city’s beloved elm trees.
Brighton and Hove City Council did not confirm the methodology of the traffic modelling but Cllr Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee said: “We’re discussing aspects of the project with stakeholder groups but no plans are finalised.”
She added: “All information upon which any decisions are taken will be made fully public. The overall purpose of the scheme will be to improve movement through the area.”
Interest groups, including transport companies, are currently being consulted on the updated plans, which will be revealed in a report to the city’s transport committee on November 29.
Work is not expected to begin until spring 2017 at the earliest.
Labour was forced to go ahead with the scheme because the Green administration had already secured £14 million funding for it.
LENGTHY WORKS TO BEGIN NEXT YEAR
ROADWORKS expected to last several months will start on a busy city centre shopping street next year.
A series of sections of North Street in Brighton are to be dug up and resurfaced after work carried out nine years ago unexpectedly deteriorated.
Brighton and Hove City Council is working with Southern Water to co-ordinate the programme of repair works to the road which is a key artery, especially for buses and taxis.
The roadworks are not expected to start until the new year but will take “a matter of months rather than weeks” according to an informed source.
The stretch of road was originally excavated in 2007 when Southern Water replaced around 400 metres of ageing Victorian water mains.
However, the passage of thousands of vehicles every day over the resurfaced road has eroded the surface which has, say the council “not proved to be as durable as was anticipated”.
Councillor Gill Mitchell, committee chairwoman for the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “We’re resolute that disruption will be kept to a minimum and that the necessary work is carried out as quickly and effectively as possible.
“A final approach and timetable is currently being discussed.
“We will share the detail of our plans with local businesses and other stakeholders for their feedback.
“During the works, Southern Water and the council will make sure we keep the public, local businesses and other stakeholders fully informed.”
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove city council stressed that the work would be carefully timetabled to fit with other developments and schemes including the significant changes to Valley Gardens.