Surrey County Council (SCC) has been delivering a number of significant infrastructure projects and Hillbers co-editor John Tonks asked for an interview with Cllr Matt Furniss (Cabinet Member for Highways) to find out more about Surrey’s traffic schemes
What did the Traffic Hot Spots scheme find
John: Cllr Furniss thank you for joining us today, about the traffic hotspots scheme. We’ve been hearing a lot on social media in the news could you tell us what is happening?
Matt: So local to the Ash & Tongham area the hotspot scheme identified three junctions. The A323 with the Pirbright Rd junction, the A331 junction and then Lastly the A31 hogs back. So when the Conservatives controlled Guildford, we put in a successful a bid into the enterprise M3 LEP for funding for these three projects. Since then, it’s been a real push from SCC to get GBC to continue delivering these as we heard that the new administration was thinking of just dropping it. However, the good news is that GBC has continued with this project. Surrey County Council has put a top-up of money in because there was a shortage in that budget. This will make sure that these schemes are delivered. The changes to the A323 Pirbright Rd junction should now be virtually complete, the residents have been very supportive there. We have also started with the tree and vegetation clearance on the A31 hogs back junction as well.
John: The Pirbright road junction has been expanded so that there are now two lanes of traffic that can pass eastbound towards Guildford at the traffic lights. This should double the throughput in this direction?
Matt: Absolutely for some reason quite a few years ago it was decided to take out the lay by, and we’ve effectively put the lay by back in, because it’s a congestion point. So that will have quite a significant improvement. And then we’ve got the slip Rd works for the Hogs back southbound from the A331. Construction will start in April to build the new slip Rd. It will also include a new crossing point for pedestrians cyclists, which will actually make it a lot safer as well, and it should ease a lot of the congestion that happens there as people are uncertain whether traffic going round the roundabout or just going on to the hogs back, so it should improve flows in both directions.
John: Excellent, that’s good to know, particularly with the A331 Roundabout coming from the Greyhound Pub direction going towards Aldershot. Sometimes that can be quite congested there, and I know some residents have had some concerns that putting traffic lights there may actually cause more congestion. Can traffic lights make things more free flowing?
Matt: That junction hasn’t been included in the scope of works at the moment because we require Hampshire County Council to make a change to North Lane. So unless Hampshire are able to do that, it would make things worse because it doesn’t resolve the issue, which actually happens on both sides of the border. But we’re working closely with Hampshire to see if we can get that brought forward. The idea about all of these hotspots is that they were all linked to the Ash Road Bridge as well, so it was improving all the junction points around and within Ash and Tongham.
Ash Road Bridge
John: Yes the Ash Road bridge will make quite a significant difference as the level crossing is quite a pinch point.
Matt: Absolutely so, because congestion was a significant concern with the new House building. The bridge was proposed, to get rid of that pinch point at the crossing. I know there are people in favour and there are definitely people against such a large engineering project, but I think it’s got to be for the local community to decide. Are they happy to put up with the congestion around that point or actually do they want to see that resolved, to have it more free flowing as you say, because it’s such a pinch point. There are people who are taking the more residential or the more country sort of single track routes through, which doesn’t help things. So we need to think do we want to keep the traffic on the main roads in which you have a large bridge or are you happy with the “rat running” through the alternative routes?
John: Some people have commented that they believe that the construction of the bridge it would enable future house building, but is it not true that houses are first built and then the infrastructure follows. By not building the bridge now it wouldn’t prevent future house building, it would just compound the existing traffic problem?
Matt: Absolutely what we’ve seen from this current GBC administration is they are continuing with planning approvals irrespective of infrastructure at the moment. And that’s why SCC is stepping in, back into the role very strongly to deliver these projects, and I’ll say we’re delivering them at risk at the moment because the County Council hasn’t been paid by GBC. This means we’re delivering these projects in advance of any funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Guildford Borough Council, because we’re still trying to put that agreement in place.
Setting Local Speed Limits
John: As you mentioned the road bridge there are some roads that lead up to that, and SCC consulted Forman Road and White Lane to reduce the limit to 30 miles an hour. I’ve seen on social media that residents have been quite positive in their support.
Matt: Yes, that was something I was strongly pushing for, because with the extra developments, we’re pushing it further out, so the 30 will start south of Ash Green on White Lane. And that means that it is effectively creating a new gateway to the village there, which will be fantastic. It also adds to the repairs that we’ve done on White Lane. There’s been quite a significant amount of maintenance there, and it should be finished off this month (March 2021) hopefully as well. We still do have plans to improve the Poyle Rd White Lane Junction, and we’re hoping that there is enough developer contributions there in order for us to improve that, because it will require some land from the farm, just to the East, in order to really improve those sight lines.
John: Thank you Cllr Furniss
Matt: Thank you