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Welcome To Woodseats And The 'nightmare' Road Scheme

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IT cost £4 million, cut the capacity of one of Sheffield's busiest roads and left motorists stuck in lengthy traffic jams - to speed up public transport by just seconds.

Drivers have deserted the A61 through Woodseats in their droves, with Sheffield Council statistics showing a fall in city-bound traffic of 16 per cent between 2001 and 2007.

But today The Star can reveal average bus journeys through the suburb are just 36 seconds faster than in the 1990s.

And highways officers also said that some of the changes proposed to the controversial scheme when Liberal Democrats took over the council may not now happen.

In November 1998, when the road was two lanes each way between Meadowhead and Scarsdale Road - bar a short section in the district centre - buses took 14 minutes 40 seconds on average to travel between Meadowhead and Heeley.

But average bus trips took 14 minutes and four seconds in July this year, three years after the scheme - including bus priority traffic lights, extra pedestrian crossings and road narrowing to a single lane each way - was completed.

Caroline Oxley, Sheffield secretary of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, who lives in Woodseats, said: "The road is a complete nightmare and is frequently jammed.

"The bus gate signals going down from Meadowhead into Woodseats are frequently on red when there are no buses and lead to traffic queuing when there is a clear road ahead.

"The way the lights currently work causes traffic to tail back uphill and block the Morrisons junction. If they are going to have a bus gate, it needs to work properly."

Fellow Woodseats resident Roy Mosley, aged 33, a conservation officer, said: "We were sold the scheme by the council on the basis it would speed-up traffic but, clearly, it hasn't.

"I think it has made the road safer, though, and I would rather we had been sold the scheme on that basis. It was a bit pricey for what the benefits are and they have missed an opportunity to improve the road for cyclists. No cycle lanes have been created."

Last November, Sheffield Council cabinet member for transport Coun Ian Auckland proposed changes after statistics showed car journeys through the suburb had become slower.

At the time, he said: "Aspects of the scheme haven't worked and I share the frustration of motorists".

Alterations proposed included a right-turn filter light for city-bound traffic at the signal-controlled junction with Scarsdale Road, which has been fitted.

And separate right-turn light is to be installed "imminently" for out-of-city traffic turning into Morrison's, on Meadowhead.

The change is designed to prevent accidents caused by cars turning right not looking for oncoming traffic heading downhill.

But proposals also revealed by Coun Auckland to reintroduce a left turn lane for city-bound traffic at Abbey Lane lights, meaning more vehicles could pass through the traffic lights in one phase, may not now go ahead.

And officials believe the bus priority lights - which Coun Auckland admitted had "inexplicable features" such as being on red for cars and buses at once - are working properly.

Peter Bull, council traffic information control manager, also claimed narrowing the route between Meadowhead and Scarsdale Road made "no difference" to capacity, because a small section in the district centre had always narrowed to a single lane each way.

Brent Collier, principal highways engineer, said traffic flow has recently been "helped" by removal of a rat run used by city-bound motorists turning onto Chesterfield Road from Abbey Lane.

Excellent use of £4m of taxpayer money.

It appears many people are employed by councils just to do anything as long as they spend some money.

I mean how hard would it be to fit sensors to the traffic lights to detect a bus when it is approaching?

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THE revelation that bus times through Woodseats have improved by just 36 seconds following so called road improvements that have forced 16 per cent of traffic to find another route, is a devastating indictment of highways planners.

From the moment the £4m project began those of us who drive through Woodseats daily could see the flaws.

Even my granddaughter, seven at the time, observed that if the road was made narrower it would be harder to get through. And so it has proved.

Added to the narrowing of the road was a raft of changes to pavements, parking and crossings. There was also the blocking off of a left turn filter lane for city bound traffic to Abbey Lane, and the creation of a bus gate on Chesterfield Road.

Baffled motorists cannot understand why two lanes - for buses and general traffic - are halted at the same time because both sets of lights are at red even when the road is clear. It's madness.

Frustrated motorists cannot understand why a left filter which would aid traffic flow into Abbey Lane was turned into a useless area of pavement.

They also cannot understand the logic of transport planners who prefer to have a jam on one part of a road rather than another.

Now we learn that promised ideas to sort out some of the problems might not go ahead because there are complications.

Last November the Sheffield Council cabinet member for transport

admitted aspects of the scheme hadn't worked and said: "I share the frustration of motorists".

He also admitted the bus gate lights had "inexplicable features".

Almost a year on and the situation remains chaotic. The lights are as eccentric as ever and no progress has been made.

It appears to be another instance where the wishes of an elected cabinet are frustrated by excuses from planners.

Exactly who is in charge?

A bunch of over paid Gestapo style idiots.

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TRANSPORT and highways officers in Sheffield must become more "customer focused" - or face their department being privatised next year, the council leader has warned.

Coun Paul Scriven revealed the action is being considered in the wake of new revelations about the £4m Woodseats traffic management scheme.

He said: "The service needs to become more customer focused. One of things we said we would do when local people voted us in last year was to change the 'Town Hall knows best' attitude that existed under Labour.

"Whilst some services such as planning have clearly improved, I'm afraid that the same can't be said about the Transport and Highways Department.

"There has been a lack of progress in terms of owning up to past mistakes, such as the Woodseats system, and then acting to rectify them."

Coun Scriven added: "If the service doesn't move up a gear by Spring, I will be asking the chief executive to look at all the options, including the possibility of outsourcing the service.

"We want a road network that works for local Sheffield people rather than just the transport professionals. If it's the case that we have to look elsewhere to deliver that then we have to consider it."

Coun Scriven added that "not enough effort" had gone into addressing the concerns over unpopular junctions and traffic systems that people flagged up through the council's 'driving me crazy' public vote last year.

Work has only been completed at seven of the top 16 locations highlighted by the public - when improvements are meant to happen at all the sites.

Most of the outstanding projects involve changes to traffic lights and are earmarked for completion by April 2010.

Does this mean we can employ some overpaid jumped up management consultant type with no road experience but talk a good talk instead?

Sounds like a great idea.

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Same thing near the Millennium Dome in Greenwich - bus lane traffic lights that are frequently turning to red when there are no buses anywhere to be seen.

They're just there to piss off the rest of the road users - Ken rephased the traffic lights to cause more jams and encourage the proles onto pubic transport.

All self-serving facking cants.


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