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Opinion: We Need More Than a Patched-up Bridge

By Bill Stokoe

A director of the Guildford Vision Group (GVG)

When will the powers-that-be finally accept that we need new and better east-west crossings in central Guildford? A patched-up, creaking 1850s bridge just won’t do.

A patched-up, creaking 1850s bridge just won’t do.

Farnham Road Bridge has served us well but, as well as being too weak and too low for some modern freight traffic, it is too narrow and has inadequate provision for cyclists and pedestrians.

In these times of risk management, is it sensible for Guildford’s developing economy to be hostage to just one crossing? We need resilience in key infrastructure.

Where are the plans in this regard? (Yorkie’s Bridge certainly won’t hack it). Some have put their faith in A3 solutions but from recent announcements these are even further away. In the meantime, the town centre continues to suffer and to be at risk.

Guildford Vision Group (GVG) has long argued for another crossing to enable the town centre to be transformed. The bottom of town, down to and across the river, should be predominantly pedestrianised.

The riverside in the centre, on both sides, should be opened up for all to enjoy. Traffic needs to be routed away from this area so pedestrians are safer and less damaged by pollution Pedestrians should have priority, not traffic.

…too weak and too low for some modern freight traffic, it is too narrow and has inadequate provision for cyclists and pedestrians.

A new east-west crossing will allow traffic to be routed around the centre, and opens up all sorts of new opportunities, not least more town centre housing on brownfield sites. It also provides risk insurance.

Farnham Road Bridge and its weakened state is just one example of how poor infrastructure and poor planning can really imperil our future. Any new housing immediately to the west, and even farther out, will only add to the volume of traffic seeking to transit the town via the Farnham Road.

“Modal shift” and other traffic reducing initiatives will at best only slow the traffic growth rate for the foreseeable future.  Ironically, the Sustainable Movement Corridor, an element of which has recently been out for consultation, will route even more heavy buses over the old bridge.

The Solum appeal inquiry, starting on tomorrow (November 7, 2017), is another instance where Guildford is vulnerable to inadequate planning policy. This inadequacy will not be cured by the draft Local Plan, nine years in the making. The massive bulk of the Solum scheme is an opportunistic development, not part of any overarching masterplan. It will block off strategic infrastructure options; most importantly a new crossing just north of the station platforms.

This is the time to be bold and for GVG’s masterplan and new crossing proposal to be properly scrutinised and debated.

 

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4 Responses to Opinion: We Need More Than a Patched-up Bridge

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 6, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I totally agree with Bill Stokoe that a new east-west bridge over the tracks is urgently needed. Solum’s appeal, due to commence tomorrow, must take the route through its proposed development into serious consideration so that provision is made for this to be enabled.

    Solum have been aware of the proposal for a new bridge since their very first consultation report which included my sketches for such a bridge, some eight years or so ago – long before GVG came into the scene.

    This is to be found in GVG’s own file (now archived) of May 2012 when GVG used to post suggestions from interested parties. My suggestions could be found in the link below which shows the proposed railway bridge some 100 metres north of Guildford Station building:

    http://s1130.photobucket.com/albums/m536/Gyratory1/Gyratory%20Update1/Proposal%20for%20a%20new%20Railway%20Bridge/

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    November 6, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Given the clearly demonstrated lack of knowledge of where Slyfield traffic comes from and goes to, I strongly suspect that there is no solid and correctly assessed traffic movement data for this bridge location – so would suggest that before any arguments are put forward for replacement or second bridges, we try and understand what this bridge actually does in respect of vehicle traffic and pedestrians and how it would affect the station enlargement as suggested in the Wessex rail plan. A bridge right over the railway and river in one jump might be an answer.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      November 8, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      One jump would need a bridge two-thirds the size of the new QEII Bridge over the Thames at Dartford. There is no room nor money for such a bridge at this location.

      A bridge over the tracks and then carrying on an as a flyover is the answer. I suggest Jim Allen spends a little time studying my suggestions detailed on my website. The Guildford Dragon has posted many comments on the pedestrianisation of town centre that Jim Allen appears to have missed or not read.

      GVG has proposed to divert all traffic to the west of the tracks and then connect the route over this bridge and then a flyover to Woodbridge Road/Stoke Road junction. Their proposal also needs a widened Town Bridge and a new widened/realigned Farnham Road Bridge.

      In my suggestion, I do not divert Millbrook traffic as GVG has proposed but I put it in a tunnel-like structure over the stretch between Quarry Street and York Road roundabout. The new route over the railway takes the east-west traffic out of the gyratory and connects with this more direct north-south route, both meeting with Woodbridge Road close to York Road roundabout.

  3. Jane Hewitt Reply

    November 13, 2017 at 9:46 am

    I agree with Bill Stokoe, something needs to be done about the traffic.

    But also Guildford could do with some more reasonable shops as well, such as Iceland. The works and some sort of shop selling a mixture of gifts, toys and general household items.

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