I write with regard to the road infrastructure in the south of England particularly the coastal strip between Shoreham and Chichester.
I am a local councillor but write this as a local resident rather than from a party political point of view.
For years and years there has been a traffic congestion problem along this coast.
It is getting much worse especially with the protracted Southern Rail strikes.
All sorts of ideas and proposals have been mooted over the years, and the houses along the present route in Worthing were even compulsorily purchased at one stage in anticipation of a new road, yet nothing was ever done.
May I remind you that a south coast arterial road from Folkestone to Honiton was spoken about many years ago and yet we are still stuck in a mire of ever increasing congestion along a route that arguably should be a south coast motorway or smooth corridor from Dover right through to Devon to make any sort of joined up sense.
If we have major motorways linking the north and south of England, the M62 crossing the backbone of England and the M4 linking London and South Wales, why is there not at least an upgraded through road along the busiest parts of the coast providing a free flow of traffic from Dover to Exeter?
There are three serious pinch points along my part of the route, Worthing, Arundel and Chichester. Worthing still has to survive with an inadequate bypass built many years ago which barely handles the enormous amount of traffic loaded upon it day by day and causing regular gridlock at rush hour time. I myself have suffered some severe delays in getting to work, especially as I have travelled from West Worthing in the Brighton direction at least twice a week. Stretches of dual carriageway are continually clogged up because of restrictive roundabouts, traffic lights and of course overwhelming traffic volumes.
Arundel is another major restriction. The road west of Worthing becomes a decent dual carriageway for seven miles or so, only to stop at a sudden end at Crossbush where the carriageway was obviously designed to carry on but stops at the oncoming fields.
Again the traffic backs up here badly especially at rush hour and during the summer months. Arundel is a notorious black spot especially in the summer when traffic backs up flowing into Arundel on the A27 either from the east or the west.
After Arundel the road again returns to dual carriageway and a more or less unrestricted run to Chichester, where again an outdated bypass through a series of often clogged roundabouts brings further gridlock and misery to rush hour and summer traffic.
I sometimes travel through the middle of the town to escape this traffic black spot, this proving to be a quicker route than congested roundabout after roundabout on the ring road.
We are now told that an IKEA store is proposed near Shoreham Airport together with the construction of more new houses.
This sounds a great idea and will be popular with many people, but without a comprehensive upgrading of infrastructure including roads, there is likely to be even more congestion and misery for thousands of commuters, travellers and tourists given the enormous influx of people coming to visit the store. The plan is to turn the major lights on the A27 at Shoreham into a roundabout to relieve the impending congestion, but how on earth is this going to ameliorate the massive increase in traffic that will come to the south coast?
I understand the Highways Agency is proposing an upgrading of the present route in Worthing with a limited budget. I’m not sure that anything less than something like an elevated roadway for through traffic taking into account local traffic as well, or a proper bypass will be more than a sticking plaster on a problem that is only going to get a lot worse in the coming years. In addition from my experience there is strong support among locals for a proper bypass which has been in the pipeline in the past but mothballed for one reason or another. Indeed I went to a town wide meeting in the Pavilion in Worthing before Christmas and this strong support was demonstrated despite the Highway Agency upgrading proposal supported by our local MPs.
Currently we have a stretch of motorway, the M27 between the New Forest and Portsmouth. Can I propose that our particular south coast stretch be upgraded to dual carriageway or motorway standard throughout, with proper bypasses around Worthing, Chichester and Arundel? This will be good not only for the local but also the national economy, given the time saved on road transportation and avoidance of congestion.
Congestion is so bad now that a strategic decision from the very top needs to be made. May I also suggest this should now be given serious priority even given real fears of the effects on the South Downs National Park or other countryside that many are worried about. I am a great lover and user of the South Downs but realise a little compromise may have to be made. Worries about damage to countryside can be ameliorated if road planners could use existing routes as much as possible to construct proper bypasses for Worthing, Chichester and Arundel, and try and minimise damage to countryside.
Mr Mark Withers
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