Fringe Box



Letter: Bridge Plans Need Urgent Reconsideration

Traffic on Farnham Road Bridge

From Maurice Barham

secretary of the Guildford Society Transport Group

On December 13, the Guildford Local Committee, which meets only four times a year, dealt with a 109-page agenda package in just 25 minutes, including public questions. A written question was not dealt with. A routine report on highway improvements and maintenance gave information on imminent repairs by Network Rail (NR) to two railway bridges.

The New Pond Road bridge is to be rebuilt between March and July 2018. Diversions to reach the nearest alternative bridge at Peasmarsh will need routes through Puttenham, the A31, the Guildford gyratory and the Portsmouth Road, showing how vital these few rail crossings are.

The New Pond Road bridge one is narrow, with no facilities for pedestrians or cyclists and it presents a fearsome blind spot as one approaches the brow.

Its impending demise has been known for many years but no provision has been made by the Transport Authority (SCC) for any additional funding to provide improvements in its design. So the replacement will simply comply with NR’s obligations and will be “like for like”, that is there will be no change to the bridge facilities.

Some improvement has been suggested, however, by retired Highways Agency Chartered Engineer, Mr Bibhas Neogi, which could provide the basis for creating pedestrian and/or cycle routes either side of the carriage-way.

He considers that this could be incorporated, as part of NR’s replacement, for some additional £300,000, with final works to be completed at a later date when additional funding can be made available. It is surely essential that SCC seriously consider his proposal.

The other one is the Farnham Road Bridge, where work is due to start in December 2018. Similarly, its foreseeable demise has been disregarded for years. SCC has agreed to fund the £4.5m which is needed to strengthen it beyond NR’s 24-ton load obligation. But again, this funding will not provide for any widening or for benefitting pedestrians or cyclists.

The bridge, with its associated junctions at Guildford Park Road and Walnut Tree Close, has shown up as a bottleneck in every modelling exercise recently carried out in attempts to improve the operation of the gyratory.

The Borough’s Corporate Plan asserts that traffic hotspots are being looked at to produce plans to alleviate congestion now and in the future. This looks like being a good candidate.

Again, Mr Neogi has suggested a way in which the carriageway could be widened without sacrificing pedestrian capacity, although a re-design of the whole area would be preferable.

It is essential that this issue should be considered with some urgency, with an opportunity to appeal for some of Mr Grayling’s Major Roads Network funding.


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4 Responses to Letter: Bridge Plans Need Urgent Reconsideration

  1. C Barker Reply

    January 7, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Stoughton Road railway bridge is another in need of replacement. It’s single lane traffic controlled by traffic lights, in my opinion, is far to close (about 200 metres) to the Grange Road crossroad junction which is also controlled by lights. The lights don’t work in synchronisation with each other and cause traffic to block the bridge, which, in turn, causes mayhem at rush hour and school runs.

    Why network rail wasted money about ten years ago on the footbridge next to the existing one-way bridge has always bugged me. It should have been replaced with a new wider road bridge.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      January 10, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Please see letter on ‘Patching Up Farnham Road Railway Bridge is Not Good Enough’.

      The background to footbridge alongside Stoughton Road railway bridge is mentioned there.

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    January 7, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Well-done Maurice for getting this letter posted. It conveys vital information about planned bridgework by Network Rail this year that would have significant impact on Guildford and traffic.

    It may be possible to use an innovative temporary bridge that would take one lane of daytime traffic but would be closed overnight. Its deck then could be opened up for access below it for work of either rebuilding or strengthening the bridge.

    So, for instance, instead of closing the B3000 altogether for four months, at least one lane of shuttle traffic could be maintained. Another option could be to maintain traffic from Compton to Peasmarsh only while traffic in the opposite direction could be diverted through Farncombe for cars and for heavier traffic through Godalming. A possible route could be through Chalk Road, Charterhouse Road, Hurtmore Road and then the A3 to B3000 Compton.

  3. Doug Clare Reply

    January 11, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    G-BUG, the Guildford Bike User Group wholeheartedly supports The Guildford Society’s letter above.

    If Surrey County Council is serious about supporting modal shift this opportunity should be taken to improve pedestrian and cycle use of both these bridges, but most importantly the Farnham Road bridge which has no cycling provision to access the railway station and the town centre.

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