Gosforth eFocus 38 - Roads special

July 25, 2015 8:57 AM

WATERWORKS DISRUPTION EXPECTED FROM MONDAY

Northumbria Water Ltd tell us :
"As part of our wider mains cleaning programme, known as The Main Event, we need to carry out work at the junction of High Street, Salters' Road and Church Road in Gosforth. In order to work at this location, temporary six-way traffic lights will be in place as well as a number of temporary pedestrian crossings for the duration of the work.
"We understand that this is a highly traffic sensitive area and have worked closely with the Newcastle City Council Highways team to make sure that this work causes as little disruption as possible. We planned this part of work in the school holidays to limit any delays caused and we will work hard to complete this section as soon as we can.
"Please be assured that we will do everything we can to minimise any disruption or inconvenience. Customers near to the work will be given advance notice of the works and we have assured them that access to their properties and their water supplies will be maintained at all times. A copy of the letter being delivered to customers is attached."

So we asked them why it couldn't be programmed with the major disruption expected when the High Street/Salters Road junction is de-staggered (straightened) and why the short notice. They say:

"I'm sorry that you feel we haven't given enough notice with our planned works. We try our best to proactively circulate information about any planned works for this scheme as soon as we have a confirmed date. There is a lot of advance planning involved with third parties, including Newcastle City Council and our contractors, before we can confirm a set date for each section of works.
"I understand that our Customer Liaison Officer spoke with local non-household customers to give notice of the planned works on Tuesday 14 July and we have had roadside advance warning notices in place at the junction since Wednesday 15 July. I wanted to make sure that we knew exactly how long the work would take before sending out any official communications to local councillors and other key stakeholders so that we're giving accurate information, so as not to set unrealistic expectations.
"I appreciate that there are other schemes ongoing in Gosforth at the moment and I can understand the frustration of having another section of work announced which will cause some level of delay. As you may know, our large diameter cleaning programme has been ongoing throughout the city since February 2012 and each phase of the cleaning has to be carefully planned to ensure that customers water supplies are maintained, disruption is kept to a minimum and that our works do not clash with any other utility improvements/repairs.
"We have had our works in Gosforth planned for some time but until we get closer to each section, we're unable to set specific dates due to third party involvement. We work extremely closely with Newcastle City Council, including their Streetworks team, to make sure that where we can, we'll align our works with theirs.
"On this occasion, I understand that the junction realignment project is still very much in the planning stage and the council are deciding how best to carry out this work. With our cleaning programme, we're unable to delay sections of work as we're cleaning our mains source to tap, meaning that we cannot skip out sections of pipe to then come back to work on at a later date as this would compromise our cleaning standards. We agreed with the council to plan in this specific section over the summer holidays to minimise the impact upon road users as this is one of the slightly quieter periods of the year."

Hmm. And the Evening Chronicle says :

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/traffic-chaos-gosforth-high-street-9709895

SAFETY AND FUNDING, GREAT NORTH ROAD


Here's an interesting response from a Council officer to a reader's independent enquiries into the £3.5 million "transport improvement" scheme
"In relation to the safety of the works that have been undertaken as part of the scheme. I can confirm that some aspects of the design have not been seen before in Newcastle and as such I recognise that this can cause uncertainty. That said, I have been assured by the engineering department that all designs are in accordance with design guidance provided by the Department for Transport.

"May I also note that all highway improvements are developed in consultation, and are reviewed by a cycling 'technical advisory group' with knowledge and experience on a local and national level. Highway designers also meet regularly with representatives from other Cycle Ambition Cities (including Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds), Transport for London, Sustrans and the Department for Transport. This group discusses best practice, knowledge and experiences of highway design issues to ensure lessons are learned from other areas.

"I am sorry to hear you say that as a cyclist you don't believe the changes have improved safety and that you would not let your children utilise the new routes. One of the main aims of the scheme was to encourage people of all ages to cycle who currently do not feel sufficiently confident or safe to do so. It is also hoped that the routes will benefit journey times and convenience for existing cyclists while (once complete) enabling more reliable journeys for all users.

"The funding for the schemes you reference in Gosforth have come from Section 106 contributions from developers (specifically for transport improvements), a bid to the Department for Transport Cycle Safety Fund, and an element came from the (then) Tyne and Wear Local Transport Plan. All of these funding streams (bar the Local Transport Plan funding which is un-ringfenced but given to local transport and highways authorities for transport improvements) have requirements on how they can be spent and it is important to note that this funding simply could not have been used to pay for the types of items you mention.

"As part of the Cycle Safety Fund bid, our proposals were reviewed by Sustrans (and considered by the Department of Transport) in order to be eligible and approved for funding.

"In terms of monitoring, officers have been studying average journey times and traffic flows along the Great North Road and considering road traffic collision statistics. There has also been monitoring of the progression of the works and we will be undertaking post scheme reviews including a road safety audit and a review of the effectiveness of the 'Orca' light segregation we have installed."

ON THE BUSES


New bus timetables are being introduced - here are those most affecting Gosforth and environs
Stagecoach from 6th September

Service 1 FLE - Heaton - City Centre- Buddle Road/ Slatyford
Standard timetable resumes with alternate buses terminating at Buddle Road.

Arriva from 6th September

Service 43 - Newcastle - Cramlington.
Hourly Mon - sat journeys extended to/from Morpeth.

Service 44-Newcastle - Dinnington - Morpeth
Some peak Mon - Sat journeys withdrawn between Dinnington and Morpeth. Most journeys retimed to 1 minute early. Some minor timetable amendments.

Service 45 - Newcastle - Dinnington
Minor retimes

Service 55- Newcastle - Forest Hall
Minor retimes

Go North East from 3rd August

Service 74- Newcastle - Westerhope - Hexham
Some journeys retimed

Service X85- Newcastle - Throckley - Hexham
Minor timetable changes in Northumberland.