Few things irritate motorists more than the endless stopping and starting caused by roadworks.
In a city as dense as Portsmouth it can feel like everywhere you look contractors are digging up the highways.
But all the disruptions which currently litter the city’s roads are really part of a huge effort by the council to help get people moving.
And it isn’t only cars which are being targeted; buses, cyclists and pedestrians all have schemes aimed at helping them get where they are going more quickly and easily.
Over the last year Portsmouth City Council has been carrying out an ongoing review of all the area’s traffic lights, many of which were installed in the 80s and need replacing.
It has involved taxi drivers and cycling groups in pinpointing which lights and junctions require attention to allow all kinds of traffic to flow more freely.
Now new traffic lights and pedestrian crossings are beginning to be installed which make use of new technology for detecting pedestrians, synchronising with other sets of lights and changing their patterns to suit the flow of traffic.
Deputy head of transport for the council, Pam Turton, said: ‘A review and quite a lot of work has been undertaken to actually look and see what needs to be done with our traffic lights.
‘A lot of the lights in the city are coming to the end of their lives and there is a huge amount of modern technology we can now use to build better, more sophisticated junctions.’
Work is scheduled to be completed in March on three junctions which will use new technology to aid people trying to cross the road safely and improve the flow of traffic.
New pedestrian crossing systems are being installed at the junctions of Elm Grove and Grove Road; Albert Road, Lawrence Road and Waverley Road; as well as Victoria Road, Elm Grove and Outram Road.
Mrs Turton said: ‘These schemes will provide a safe pedestrian route through the area and reduce confrontation experienced between traffic and pedestrians.
‘Each of the sites will also benefit from the addition of on-crossing detectors.
‘These will enable less mobile pedestrians to cross safely without the need to hurry.’
Decisions have yet to be made on how many junctions will be replaced city-wide, but work on five is currently ongoing or about to start, and the council has around another five in the immediate pipeline awaiting decisions.
In April 2011 the council published a 20-project wishlist of road and traffic improvements for the city.
Due to cost around £2m, this transport plan was set to be brought in over the next 12 months.
Many of the projects are now nearing completion in time for the target deadline of March, with consultations having been carried out during 2011.
Projects due to finish within the next few months include plans to make Eastern Road two-lane southbound between Milton Road and Swordsands Road, replacing an existing traffic island with a toucan crossing and modifying Milton Road’s traffic lights to improve the traffic flow and pedestrian crossing.
Similar improvements to the traffic lights and pedestrian crossings in Copnor Road are also almost finished, but a scheme to slow traffic in Kirby Road had to be abandoned after opposition from residents.
And the council decided its plan to create a one-way system in Francis Avenue and Heidelberg Road would not be ‘the best use of resources’.
Kerbs are also being raised at every bus stop in the city, to help older people, those with buggies and young children and others to get on and off.
This will continue until 2015.
Mrs Turton said the council was ‘very careful’ not do all the work at once so putting ‘stress’ on the network.
But she added: ‘Unfortunately the processes take time to go through so that is why a lot of work is happening now.
‘In an ideal world we would stagger them more than we do.’
She added: ‘The other problem is that doing this work is just very, very expensive.
‘The alternative measures we have put in place while work is going on cost a lot of money and there are just no quick fixes.
‘But these schemes are fundamental to how the city runs. In these difficult financial times we are just delighted to have the money to continue them.’
MAKING ROADS SAFE
AS WELL as getting traffic and people in Portsmouth flowing freely the council is also striving to make the city’s roads as safe as possible.
In streets such as Farlington Avenue, in Farlington, and Tangier Road, in Baffins, speeding has become such a concern for local people that traffic calming measures could soon be introduced.
The strategies for slowing traffic include narrowing roads and installing chicanes and raised platforms. Residents in both areas are being consulted to see if they think such measures will solve their problems.
Allaway Avenue, in Paulsgrove, was also highlighted last year after an accident in which a youngster was knocked off his bike by a car.
Now the council is aiming to introduce a one-way system near Victory Primary School to ensure a safer flow of traffic.
There are also plans to put in improved pedestrian crossings near other schools in Portsmouth, such as Newbridge Junior School in Copnor.
In order to improve safety around schools even more, the council is aiming to reduce some 30mph speed limits to 20mph.
Schools being considered for the change include Corpus Christi Primary School, in Gladys Avenue, Victory Primary School, in AllAway Avenue, and at Copnor Infant and Junior Schools, in Copnor.
The council is waiting for approval and funding for a scheme to install bollards, barriers, signs and drop kerbs to improve access to schools city-wide.
BUS LANE CAMERAS
PLANS for a £20,000 study into bus lane cameras have been thrown out by Portsmouth City Council.
The city’s Lib Dem administration suffered its first full council defeat in two years over the proposal, which was intended to look at whether cameras could stop cars using city bus lanes and committing other parking violations.
It was defeated by a single vote when councillors from both the largest parties queried the £20,000 price tag.
In the end it proved too much for a majority to accept, especially after it was claimed that other councils have been able to install fully working systems for around £36,000.
Conservative transport spokesman, Luke Stubbs, welcomed the decision not to proceed.
He said: ‘Dozens of councils across the country operate this type of equipment, so we already know it’s feasible. It’s also not that expensive. It makes no sense to spend large sums on a report when what is needed is a political decision: buy it or don’t buy it. It’s a waste to suggest spending thousands just talking about it.’
Now the decision has been taken to put CCTV cameras in two location of particular concern, where raised barriers have failed to stop motorists using the bus lanes near Moneyfields Sport and Social Club and in Furze Lane, in Eastney.