PLANS are under way to get Portsmouth moving after outdated traffic lights were blamed for the congestion that blights the city.
A proposal to look at new measures to help solve the problem of motorists travelling through the city at a snail’s pace has been approved.
A major cause is thought to be 20-year-old traffic signals and junction layouts dating back to the 1970s.
Now city councillor Jason Fazackarley, who is in charge of traffic and transportation, has called on officers to take a detailed look at every traffic signal and pedestrian crossing and identify improvements.
They are even looking at a proposal to switch traffic lights to flashing amber at night so motorists can decide when to stop and go.
Barry Rawlings, who is in charge of the council’s network management team, said: ‘I can find an issue with every single set of signals where improvements could be made, but it could be a £500 software change or several hundred thousand pounds to rebuild a junction.’
He added: ‘We have lights installed in the 1980s and even before, and technology has moved on. We can, for example, make lights more responsive to traffic, with updated vehicle sensors. We should also look at making sure all traffic light sequencing is set correctly, so they change in proper sequence, which will help reduce traffic build-up at junctions.’
Officers have examined 53 junctions and 79 pedestrian crossings. But now it is hoped a detailed review will help improve traffic flow.
Proposals include updating technology used for detecting vehicles and improving the sequencing of lights. Lights could be timed to ensure they stay on green for maximum periods based on how busy a junction is and the time of day.
Junction layouts could be changed and new islands introduced to cut crossing distances for pedestrians. And more crossings could be introduced including a ‘walk with traffic’ option meaning motorists would not have to stop completely to allow pedestrians to cross.Signals could also rest on red rather than green to improve safety and reduce traffic speeds in quieter periods. Mr Rawlings added: ‘There are improvements that can be made across the board.’
Lights make driving heavy work
Chief reporter CHRIS OWEN took a drive around Portsmouth city centre. Here he recounts his journey
MID-MORNING on a perfect sun-drenched spring day is just about as good as it gets for driving through Portsmouth.
But still a 34-minute, nine-mile journey saw me pass through an astonishing 26 sets of lights – including many that left me drumming my fingers on the dashboard.
Our route? Straightforward enough. From The News Centre at Hilsea, south along London Road, through North End and Fratton to Winston Churchill Avenue, Anglesea Road, Mile End Road, M275 to the Marriott lights and back to the start via Western Road. The first major delay came at temporary lights in North End where it took five minutes to get across the junction with Stubbington Avenue.
A four-minute hold-up came at the junction with Kingston Crescent before another three minutes just down the road.
Then I had to wait a total of around four minutes at St Mary’s Church and the various sets of lights down Fratton Road.
Fratton Bridge was a breeze and then it was on down Winston Churchill Avenue before hitting a three-minute wait at lights outside the courts.
The Hope Street and new Trafalgar Gate lights were sailed through, before hitting another three-minute delay at the Marriott.