Tell us Trafford, how many vehicles can we expect on local roads?
At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps.
A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts. The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by the sheer volume of misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).
This is the fourth in our series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.
This blog focuses on Trafford’s strategic case for the road, particularly the Traffic Numbers.
Given the presentation to Scrutiny Committee, the CRR appears to be seen by Trafford as the panacea to resolving the congestion and route issues highlighted by the Officer. Yet, as one Scrutiny Committee member mentioned, there has long been strong evidence that new roads bring new traffic, a point which was also acknowledged in the P4E New Carrington Transport Locality Assessment (TLA).
It does not seem plausible that the CRR will solve any congestion issues, given the disputed planned route across Carrington Moss only replaces a very small portion of the existing A6144, which, like many other roads, is, typically, only congested during rush hour. In addition, if the A1 service road was opened, end to end, as soon as possible, HGVs and through traffic would have an alternative route, bypassing Carrington Village. As Trafford Officers are fully aware, this part of the proposal is not disputed.
Trafford’s Officer went on to assert that buses get caught up in the congestion, but, even if bus lanes are created as part of the CRR route across the moss, the rest of the A6144 does not have capacity for bus lanes, which would mean that buses (and other traffic) would be further impacted by the increased congestion caused by the induced traffic on other stretches of the existing road.
Furthermore, in suggesting that a decent bus service is easier to achieve than other forms of public transport, Trafford’s Officer is obviously ignoring the fact that the New Carrington Masterplan only requires developers to be “encouraged” to improve bus accessibility and that the response to our FOI request said “There are currently no committed schemes to improve public transport in this area”. This is also confirmed in GM’s Transport Delivery Plan, as set out in our previous blog.
He also mentioned that the planned CRR route would create safe provision for cycling! This is not correct, as pointed out by Councillor Chilton. Cycling and walking routes right next to a very busy major road (which is intended, according to the Option Appraisal, to be a dual carriageway), is unsafe, unhealthy and unpleasant.
Whilst Trafford’s Officer stated that “it will take time to adjust to a fully sustainable, more low carbon future”, questions should be asked why such sustainable solutions have not been considered as part of the plan for the New Carrington Allocation over the past more than 6 years, whilst the GMSF and the GM Transport Strategy 2040 have been under development?
As we asked in our earlier blog, is Trafford’s aim to force residents to accept the need for a new road because of their imprudence and inaction? Despite Trafford’s recognition that the A6144 is already over-capacity, Trafford’s Planning Committee has continuously approved schemes in the area that will significantly increase traffic on local roads
without requiring ANY commitment to fund sustainable passenger or freight transport options!
As highlighted by Councillor Wright, a number of planning applications have been granted over the past 6 or so years, whilst the GMSF and the GM Transport Strategy were under development, which are planning to significantly increase the traffic on the local road networks. This has, effectively, been done by stealth, prior to P4E approval, and without the benefit of a sensible, sustainable, transport plan for the area.
As one member of the Scrutiny Committee mentioned, “if you increase the resident population tenfold and you increase the employment space significant fold, you are going to get more traffic”.
Perhaps Trafford’s Planning Committee was thinking about the GM Transport Strategy 2040’s Right Mix Vision, mentioned by Trafford’s Officer at the Scrutiny Committee meeting.
This vision is for 50% of trips to be made by sustainable modes, with NO net increase in motor vehicle traffic, by 2040! To clarify this point, what the Transport Strategy says is that “Achieving the Right Mix is expected to lead to zero net growth in motor vehicle traffic in Greater Manchester between 2017 and 2040”.
With this aspiration in mind, why is Trafford investing hard earned, limited, public money on constructing a new road, rather than planning for, and implementing, sustainable passenger and freight transport options? The Business Case for this new road must be subject to detailed scrutiny! In addition, constructing a new road will add to the maintenance costs for Trafford as the existing route will also continue to be operational.
It is incongruous for Trafford’s Officer to imply that anyone is suggesting that “overnight, road transport won’t feature as part of our transport strategy”. What residents do not expect, however, is that road transport continues to be the ONLY show in town, given Trafford’s declaration of a climate emergency in November 2018 and the production of their Carbon Neutral Action Plan in December 2020.
So, let’s look at the traffic numbers.
Local residents and schools have undertaken traffic counts at the Isherwood Road junction and the Mersey Farm junction on a number of occasions over the past 3 years. During rush hour, the Isherwood Road junction sees over 200 HGVs an hour thundering through the traffic lights (with 2 HGVs failing to stop at red on one occasion). The Mersey Farm junctions sees over 130 HGVs an hour, travelling towards Carrington, at other times during the day. Residents report significant problems with HGV noise and vibrations throughout the night, disturbing their sleep and resulting in both physical and mental health problems.
These HGVs bring very high levels of air pollution (not just NO2, the target of GM’s Clean Air Zone, but also PM2.5, which will not be addressed by the current CAZ). Given the lack of sustainable freight transport options, and the continued approval of substantial planning applications, residents will suffer from even more air, noise and light pollution as a direct consequence of Trafford’s decisions.
The GMSF/P4E TLA suggests that over 70% of the additional traffic created by the planned New Carrington Allocation is expected to use the Carrington Spur, taking those vehicles past a primary school on their journeys to, or from, the motorway (it should be noted that the figure will be 100% of HGVs travelling to/from the Carrington Spur – unless there is a plan for some of those vehicles to drive through Partington or Flixton)!
We were very interested to hear the Trafford Officer state that he would be glad to point Scrutiny Committee members to the detailed transport assessments because Parish Councils and Community Groups in the area have made repeated requests for that information for over the past 2 years without success.
In July 2021, Carrington Parish Council raised a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request, which was unsuccessful because Trafford confirmed they do not have the information. What they initially pointed the Parish Council to (in September 2021) was the data contained in a number of planning applications (all of which were then over 2 years old), which the communities have already reviewed, and which does not contain the information requested.
Click on the graphic to go to the FOI request
Trafford also pointed the Parish Council to the New Carrington Transport Locality Assessment (and its addendum), which was one of the P4E documents, and which, again, communities had already reviewed and which, again, does not contain the information requested.
On receipt of this information (21st Sept 2021) the Parish Council immediately responded to Trafford to confirm that the links in their response did not contain the required data and that the information provided was insufficient to satisfy the FOI request. Trafford responded on 11th October 2021, confirming that the “Council does not hold any more traffic count data than that already provided by the links to the planning applications”.
At the Scrutiny Committee, Trafford’s Officer confirmed that more traffic modelling would take place in future phases of the road programme. We think it is unacceptable that the Authority has made a decision about the route of a major new road on the basis of information that is out of date, incomplete and inaccurate.
Councillor Wright suggested that “it’s not realistic to think we are going to get away from road transportation in the next 3 or 4 years”. If there are currently not even any plans to consider sustainable passenger and freight options on the table today, then the move away from road transport will be significantly longer than that, suggesting Trafford’s Declaration of a Climate Emergency is merely words!
As we mentioned in our previous blog, Trafford are progressing a £30m scheme which will only replace a very short section of the A6144, benefiting some drivers for a very short time (see this video for an explanation of this example of Jevons Paradox in action).
What are our asks?
We set out our key asks in our previous blog. Without the information we request, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal.
For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out the Carrington Link Road page on our website.