Portsmouth City Council insists it’s trying its best to keep the city’s traffic flowing.
Today we publish a detailed statement issued by the council after widespread criticism of the roads layout on the M275 / Mile End approach to the city centre.
The statement says: ‘Portsmouth’s city centre road network and the approaches to it are at or approaching capacity in a number of locations.
‘Traffic levels are forecast to get higher year on year, so if nothing changes we will end up with absolute gridlock where cars can’t move at all.
‘There were a lot fewer cars around when the road network we have was built, but unfortunately we have to work with what we’ve got.
‘We need to develop it into an infrastructure which can support economic growth through a range of transport options.
‘With only three roads on and off the island, alternatives to cars are essential.
‘Because of this, as a council we have to promote sustainable transport to people and encourage them to change their travel habits.
‘This isn’t going to happen overnight, but in time we hope to change people’s behaviour bit by bit.
‘To promote these alternatives to cars, we need to make sure people have effective options available and the bus lane from the M275 into the city is part of this. ‘Not only does it support the park and ride but it is also used by numerous commercial bus services.
‘To ensure a continuous bus lane into the city centre, we had to make changes to the road layout.
‘This has resulted in queues forming at the bottom of the M275, but it isn’t affecting overall journey times into the city centre.
‘That is because we have effectively relocated delays that already existed further into the road network.
‘Previously, congestion built up around Marketway where the number of lanes reduced, but this key area of the city now has much better traffic flow.
‘Independently-collected journey time data shows some peak time trips into the city are taking a little longer and some are a little faster, but they are all ‘within a few minutes of what the times were before any work was done.
‘Since the new layout was installed, we have made a number of changes to optimise traffic flow, particularly on Rudmore roundabout.
‘This includes the addition of a yellow box junction and designing specific new traffic signal timing programmes to be used during the busiest periods.
‘We’re also finishing a project to improve the junctions and crossings south of Rudmore, with new signal phasings and equipment, to synchronise traffic signals and allow traffic to flow into the city as easily as possible.
‘This is all on top of the ongoing daily monitoring of the junction our traffic management team does as part of its role keeping the city’s roads moving.
‘The recent comments about this road layout were generated by delays experienced between Christmas and new year.
‘During this period, levels on the M275 coming into Portsmouth peaked at around 800 cars every 15 minutes.
‘Comparing this to a normal weekend day, during a two-hour period 2,000 more cars than usual came into the city.
‘Usually when there are high volumes of traffic during rush hours, the cars disperse throughout the city as people live and work in different areas, but on these days everyone was going shopping and the majority of city centre car parks were full, so cars couldn’t get off the roads.
‘Portsmouth will always have problems with delays when there are special events in the city and more people drive in, it’s an unavoidable problem. As a city we have big ambitions to grow in terms of creating jobs and attracting more visitors, but as part of this we need to make sure we have a full range of transport options to support that growth.
‘Last year, tens of thousands of people came to the D-Day commemorations and Victorious Festival and we worked with the organisers to give visitors advice on transport options.
‘People used trains, park and ride, buses, bikes or walked and because of this there were no major delays on the road network.
‘As a council, we do a lot of work to promote sustainable transport.
‘We’re currently running a campaign to encourage residents to use a bus, if you’re doing short journeys in the city it’s often a better way to travel, and we’re giving away free one-day bus passes today in the city centre and at Fratton Park.
‘Portsmouth is quite a compact, flat city so is easy to get around by walking, bike or public transport. We’re working to help people realise that but at the same time we will continue to do everything we can to keep cars moving as much as possible.’
*What’s your view on the council’s statement? Please add your comment to this story.