Item 8

Report to the

Date: 15 July 2008

Report by: John Buckett

tel: 01962 857433 email: john.buckett@hants.gov.uk

Subject: Strategic Traffic Management

Purpose of the Report

The report sets out for approval a proposed approach to strategic traffic management within the Transport for South Hampshire area.

Recommendation

That Transport for South Hampshire should prioritise strategic traffic management within the sub-region, working with its national, regional and local partners through the Multi Area Agreement, seeking funding and support for studies and implementation programmes from key stakeholders.

Introduction

1. The Transport for South Hampshire (TfSH) transport strategy is based on reduce, manage and invest, and recognises that, with an economic growth agenda, demand for travel is expected to rise significantly.

2. While the scope for reducing demand, particularly through travel planning and the smarter choices agenda, is being pursued, together with increased use of public transport, it is clear that there will continue to be pressure for traffic levels to rise significantly.

3. TfSH is looking to reinforce its evidence base to better understand the complexities of the area's transport and predict the impact of individual schemes and policy interventions. It is clear, however, that improved coordination across networks will be an essential part of any strategy. The issues are explained in more detail below.

4. The Multi Area Agreement provides a framework of partnership agreement to allow joint working with the Highways Agency, supported by the Department for Transport (DfT), which enables a holistic approach to be taken to active traffic management (ATM) across the whole network.

Strategic Issues

5. The three strategic corridors relating to the TfSH area are the M3, the M27 and the A3/A3(M). There are already capacity issues at peak times, with parts of both the M3 and the M27 carrying over 130,000 vehicles on an average weekday, some 30% over the congestion reference flow previously used as an indicator of when intervention was required.

6. The M3 is the major access road to the sub-region, its ports and airport and, together with the main rail line and M27, forms part of the Trans-European network. It is also an important access road for South East Dorset which is a growth area.

7. Forecasts of flows by 2026 show severe congestion at key junctions, such as junction 9 of the M3 southbound, where the A34 Midlands trunk road joins east of Winchester. While it would be technically possible to significantly increase the capacity at this junction, the inevitable consequence would be to transfer the bulk of congestion to other parts of the M3 and M27 and their junctions as well as the local authority roads serving them.

8. There is already significant queuing on local authority access roads to the M27 and M3 as well as delays on it. (There is an average morning peak delay on the M27/M3 northbound route between Segensworth and Winchester of nine minutes.) Because of the unreliability of the motorways, many motorists now avoid them for parts of their journey leading to heavy flows through Twyford, for example. Use of this `avenue' is likely to increase as demand grows while some `spare' capacity exists.

9. There is a need to look at the whole corridor from Winchester to Southampton, including the potential for transferring local traffic away from peak-time use of the motorway (to other modes or routes or times, etc) and for capacity improvements, although there are major environmental issues to consider as well as practical considerations (not least cost) in treating the whole corridor.

10. The M27 is classified as a regional motorway and is unusual in terms of its role (east of Southampton) as being used predominantly for `local' journeys within the sub-region. Its strategic access role to Portsmouth and its port, as well as much of South Hampshire, is of course very important, but the geography and development patterns of South Hampshire mean that local communities and businesses are very reliant on the M27.

11. The A3/A3(M) route carries less strategic traffic with its use constrained by bottlenecks at Hindhead and Guildford, with fewer than 40,000 vehicles on this route near the Surrey boundary. Increased usage is expected when the Hindhead tunnel is completed.

Government Position

12. The M3/A34 corridor was scheduled to be the subject of a multi-modal study but the programme was cancelled before this was undertaken.

13. The Eddington Report published in 2006 highlighted access to gateways as an important priority for investment and so the M3 corridor (and M27) might be expected to figure in the new Government programmes to emerge in the next year or so.

14. In recent years the Highways Agency experimented with ramp metering, whereby traffic was held by traffic lights at entry points to motorways to regulate joining flows.

15. Following successful trials on the M42 the Highways Agency will be carrying out a feasibility study into the possibility of Managed Motorways on appropriate parts of its network. Managed Motorways, such as the Active Traffic Management pilot on the M42, could utilise techniques such as variable speed limits and hard shoulder running. The southern part of the M3 and the M27 have been chosen as part of this feasibility study. The Highways Agency will be involving sub-regional partners in this study.

16. On the M25 the Highways Agency has commissioned consultants to look at Integrated Demand Management. This is examining the techniques for and benefits of managing the local and strategic road networks together, with cooperation between the Highways Agency and the Local Transport Authorities.

17. Traditionally the Highways Agency has concentrated on managing the performance of its network, including the provision of information and diversion routes, largely to the exclusion of considering the effects on local networks, and its increasing willingness to look at and cooperate with the bigger picture is to be welcomed.

Transport for South Hampshire Issues

18. As was reported to the April meeting, the three TfSH highway authorities have urban traffic control and travel information systems, collectively referred to as Intelligent Transport Systems or ITS. The potential for coordinating these traffic and travel information centres is being progressed and a draft report has been produced assessing the feasibility of integrating ITS deployment in the area, currently delivered through three separate centres. The systems concerned are essentially urban, but there are some links with Highway Agency systems for the provision of driver information via variable message signs and matrix signals.

19. As part of its studies into strategic access to the sub-region, TfSH has had some preliminary work done on possible motorway improvements, including the role of ATM.

20. While the ATM feasibility studies by the Highways Agency is welcomed, the following points need to be made:

21. In the context of the Government position, officers have been examining routes to and from major existing and proposed employment areas, in liaison with representatives with Hampshire Economic Partnership, with a view to identifying access issues and the potential for improvements. A coordinated approach covering motorway access and key local authority access roads is likely to involve traffic management control and real-time information systems and could also be linked to public transport and park and ride.

22. The potential for a comprehensive traffic management and information system is to be explored. A system could be developed based on the motorway and access to it which could operate separately over relatively small areas or could be extended to interact with the urban control systems in Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester, Eastleigh and other towns in the TfSH area, so that information could be coordinated and actions taken to cover emergency situations or policy priorities across the area (for example priority for freight or public transport in certain areas or measures to support air quality objectives in others). There might be a case for a control centre that looks at all aspects or perhaps a linked hierarchy where `local' matters are delegated as appropriate.

23. There are issues in terms of just how much control is practical or desirable compared with a desire to allow travellers to make informed choices about their requirements as well as accessibility and equalities issues.

24. There are costs associated with the development of any element of a transport strategy, and it is proposed that TfSH officers should initially engage with its national, regional and local partners to agree the first steps of strategy development and initial funding arrangements. This needs to be done within the context of the Government's approach to the strategic aspects of access to South Hampshire, which needs to be discussed and understood, as well as looking at the Highways Agency ATM Study and the local potential.

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers

 

The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.

 

NB the list excludes:

 

1.

Published works.

 

2.

Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.

TITLE

LOCATION

None.

 

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