Traffic queues in Backwell to triple in length by 2026
QUEUES at Backwell crossroads in the centre of the village could triple in length by 2026, a new study has revealed.
Research by highways consultants Town Planning Associates (TPA) has revealed that the length of traffic queues at the light controlled crossroads on the busy A370 could be three times longer within the next 14 years.
Traffic counts and computer modelling research carried out by North Somerset Council at the traffic lights revealed the crossroads is operating at just below capacity during the morning peak period from 7.30am-8.30am and at capacity during the evening rush hour from 5.15pm-6.15pm.
Currently the queue at the Station Road junction of the lights is 84 metres in the mornings during the week.
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But the research shows this could rise to 222 metres by 2026.
Along West Town Road - the main A370 through the village- queues are currently 138 metres during weekday mornings with the research showing these could grow to 360 metres within the next 14 years.
Microprocessor optimised vehicle actuation lights are already used at the crossroads which allows the signals to respond to and change based on street conditions.
Future traffic flows at the crossroads were estimated using a computer modelling tool developed by the Department of Transport.
The model provides a forecast of traffic flows taking account of planned development in North Somerset, the changing pattern of car ownership and other factors.
The figures also include traffic which could be generated as a result of a possible development of 50 new homes in the village.
Concerns have also been raised that motorists will use narrow residential streets such as Rodney Road or Church Lane as rat runs to avoid the lights as the traffic queues increase.
Experts from TPA are suggesting that traffic calming already in place in adjacent residential streets needs to be reviewed and expanded to other areas which could be affected.
The research was carried out as part of the new Backwell Neighbourhood Plan which when finalised will set out how the village will develop up until 2026.
In their report, Town Planning Associates said: "The analysis demonstrates that even without any further major residential development in the village or growth in traffic from example, Bristol Airport's expansion, forecast growth in the sub region will cause very substantial increases in queues and delays at the junction.
"This in turn will lead to the length of the peak periods extending as drivers seek to minimise their journey times and to the prospect of rat running in order to avoid the delays that would be encountered at the junction.
"There are no readily achievable improvements that can be implemented at the junction to improve throughput.
"It is arguable that increased capacity at the A370 junction could have undesirable consequences in the neighbourhood."
Measures have already been suggested to try and combat the issues of additional traffic including improving bus travel and encouraging new cycle links.
These also include extending the car park at the railway station to encourage more people to travel by train.
A spokesman for Backwell Parish Council said: " Growth in through traffic is a major concern.
"The consequential increased use of residential streets as rat runs will prejudice safety and the quality of village life and the situation is unsustainable."
The village is only one of a handful across the country chosen by the Government to take part in the special scheme where people are being asked to draw up a Neighbourhood Development Plan for where they live.
The draft plan is available at www.backwell-pc.gov.uk and the consultation period runs until January 12.