Calls for on-line works to A27 risk more congestion, pollution and damage
Calls to spend the £75 million set aside by the Department of Transport (DfT) to upgrade the A27 on counter-productive on-line works risks slowing traffic, increasing congestion, increasing pollution and putting a new road across the Downs and through the South Downs National Park, without solving the existing conflict between the increasing volume of long distance traffic on the A27 trunk road travelling east-west and local traffic travelling north-south.
There has even been talk of putting a roundabout at the Wilmington crossroads, something which would inevitably slow traffic, increase congestion and increase pollution due to more stop-start driving.
Calls for improved local access at junctions and a single speed limit are likely to worsen driving conditions on the A27, slowing traffic further and increasing congestion.
There are over 45 junctions with the trunk road between Polegate and Beddingham, one of the principal failings of the road which is the main east-west road through Sussex.
Suggestions thus far have also included cutting a new road into the South Downs National Park to bypass Selmeston – options considered during the feasibility study to have poor strategic benefit, no economic benefit and high environmental impact.
Despite some claims to the contrary, DfT counts show traffic on the A27 between Polegate and Lewes is increasing. Traffic flows between Berwick and Beddingham have increased for 4 of the last 5 years, and in 2014 stood at just over 34,000 vehicles per day, an increase of over 20% since 2009.
The poor quality of the existing road is known to make many drivers detour through the National Park via the A259 and the neighbouring villages, many of which are reporting problems with speeding traffic. Wealden has one of the highest accident rates in the country on its rural roads, being 63% above the national average.
Traffic flows between Polegate and Berwick have increased each year for the last 3 years, having decreased during the recession and in 2014 stood at over 22,500 vehicles per day, an increase of 29% since 2000.
A new road between Polegate and Beddingham, whether single or dual carriageway, would take through traffic away from the existing route, further away from the National Park, encourage consistent driving speeds (reducing pollution), reduce traffic through the adjoining villages, and provide significant scope to enhance the existing road for local traffic, horse riders, cyclists and walkers. Local traffic would no longer be in conflict with through traffic and the villages along the road would no longer be cut in two. While there are highly exaggerated claims made about the impact of a new road across the Weald, landscaping and tree planting will do much to conceal any new road.
The ‘untouched countryside’ between the Long Man of Wilmington and the High Weald already hosts the existing A27 (34,000 vehicles/day), the A22 (22,500 vehicles/day), the Polegate to Lewes railway line (137 trains/day), Arlington Reservoir, thousands of houses, miles of roads, electricity pylons, industrial estates and the impact of man’s activities over several millennia, yet virtually all is obscured by trees or hidden within the landscape and invisible from the Downs.
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