The Chelmsford City Growth Package has been announced this week, and one proposal within the Parkway Corridor is that there will be a “bus gate” operating on the junction of Baddow Road and the Army & Navy roundabout, which will effectively only allow busses through. Cars will have to find an alternative route.
Here is the proposall. You can read the proposal online (pdf) here too – we have shared the main details below for easier reading.
Army and Navy Roundabout Improvements: Baddow Road Bus Gate
Where is the scheme?
The Army and Navy roundabout is a key gateway to the city and is a key point on the network where five roads meet at the junction. The Baddow Road approach to the junction is a primarily residential access onto the junction and suffers severe congestion during peak periods. Baddow Road falls within the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) around the Army and Navy junction.
What is being proposed?
Queuing traffic along Baddow Road adds to poor air quality – this needs to be addressed. There are a significant number of buses which use Baddow Road, however the traffic delays along the corridor increases journey time for buses by an average of 7 minutes in the morning peak. This is known to be significantly higher at times. In order to improve the air quality at this location, and to encourage people to use the buses, improvements are required.
An Air Quality Management Area is designated by a local authority when it considers that national air quality objectives will not be met.
The proposal is to install a ‘bus gate’ on the Baddow Road arm of the Army and Navy roundabout. A westbound bus gate between Meadgate Avenue and the roundabout would be in operation 24 hrs per day and 7 days per week. Cameras would be in place to enforce the bus gate.
Access into Baddow Road from the roundabout would remain as it is. The bus gate is expected to improve the operation of the Army and Navy roundabout by removing one of the approaches for regular vehicle movements but without the disbenefit of attracting significant additional traffic to the junction or Parkway.
This would help to create a faster and more reliable sustainable transport corridor for over 15 buses per peak hour travelling on Baddow Road, making these bus journeys an attractive alternative to car journeys as cars would need to travel on alternative routes.
Modelling of the bus gate indicates overall reductions in delay on the approach from Van Diemans Road to the roundabout, especially in the evening peak – it becomes easier for traffic on this arm to enter the roundabout. Overall there is no significant increase in congestion on other arms of the junction as traffic naturally redistributes itself across the network. Existing part-time signals can be used to balance flows entering the Army and Navy roundabout from Baddow Bypass and Chelmer Road to ensure both have opportunities to exit onto the roundabout as traffic redistributes from Baddow Road.
Initial assessment suggests that the scheme is likely to improve air quality on Baddow Road by reducing general traffic and associated queuing.
In peak hours, vehicles sit in queues travelling between 0 and 5 mph westbound from the junction with Beehive Lane until onto the Army and Navy Roundabout.
The Baddow Road bus gate scheme will also be supported by complementary measures that have been included in the overall package of proposals.
- Beehive Lane and Loftin Way cycle scheme (see Volume 5 document);
- Gt Baddow High School cycleway (see Volume 5 document);
- Gt Baddow to City Centre cycleway (see Volume 5 document); and
- Parkway Corridor improvements(described in this document).
The bus gate will be implemented for an 18 month trial to monitor the impacts on both local traffic and the traffic using the Army and Navy roundabout. Further options to optimise operation at the Army and Navy will be assessed during this period once traffic has settled into the new travel patterns.
There is a separate proposal in this volume, part of which relates to the provisions for people who cycle around the Army and Navy Roundabout. The Great Baddow to City Centre Cycle Route proposal can be found on page 12 of volume 5.
15 BUSES travel along Baddow Rd in the AM peak hour. One full bus can take 40 passengers – that’s 40 fewer cars on the road. If each of these buses were full, there could be up to 600 fewer cars on the road.
Other options were considered for this area prior to choosing the bus gate but were discounted for the following reasons:
- Full signalisation of the roundabout was discounted because of the lack of queuing space on the roundabout which caused the junction to ‘lock up’;
- Replacing the flyover with a two-way structure was discounted in the short term due to cost and land issues. This option is being considered as a potential longer-term scheme; and Restricting all general traffic into and out of Baddow Road at the Army and Navy roundabout by creating a two way bus gate was discounted due to significant impacts of Baddow Road traffic re-routing onto the local road network
Improvement in air quality at the Baddow Road junction with the Army and Navy roundabout, which is identified as an Air Quality Management Area. The reduction in queuing traffic along Baddow Road is expected to reduce pollution in the area and improve air quality with benefits for the health of residents of the local area. Improve congestion by removing the majority of traffic exiting from Baddow Road, and improve the overall operation of the roundabout.
Improve bus journey times and reliability: Reducing bus journey times and improving journey time reliability on Baddow Road is likely to make local bus services much more attractive as an alternative to travelling by car into the city centre.
Improve cycling access by allowing people who cycle to use the existing subway under the roundabout through Great Baddow to city centre cycle route improvements.
Improve response time for emergency vehicles by enabling them to use the bus gate. They will also benefit from the reduced congestion along the route.
Traffic: General traffic using Baddow Road onto the Army and Navy will need to change routes or choose another mode of travel such as bus, cycling or walking. There is likely to be additional traffic routing east via Great Baddow to the Maldon Road junction with the Baddow Bypass and traffic switching to Wood Street and London Road. Access:
Access to residential properties and businesses west of Meadgate Avenue may only be possible from the Army and Navy roundabout. Access for delivery vehicles and council services such as refuse collections will be considered during the detailed design phase.
Heavy goods vehicles: An alternative route will be identified to enable large vehicles that have reached the bus gate, but are not permitted to exit, to safely turn back. This may be via Meadgate Avenue and is likely to result in some additional heavy goods vehicles on this road.
Cost estimate: Less than £500,000
*** End of Proposal Document ****
For anybody living within the area of Great Baddow between Beehive Lane and the Army & Navy, they will be blocked from entering town along the shortest and fastest route. Even in the evenings and at weekends, local residents will have to travel from the top of Baddow Road all the way back into Great Baddow to join the Baddow Bypass, to then return into to. In terms of pollution, this is forcing people to make much longer journeys. Not everybody can catch a bus – busses do not run 24/7, so why should the bus gate operate around the clock?
It will also affect services to Great Baddow from town – delivery drivers and traders will have to take a much longer round trip, which could see prices pushed up.
Businesses along Baddow Road may also be affected by a significant reduction in passing traffic. The two garages will see a massive drop in passing traffic.
Will We Get More Busses?
Of course, the big question is, will we get more busses? At the moment, there are only a few busses that run along this route, and most serve towns and villages further out, such as Maldon, Danbury, Bicknacre, and East Hanningfield.
Also, many people passing along Baddow Road are not living on bus routes that serve this entry into town.
Meadgate, which is also a proposed new cycle route, will receive much more traffic, especially from vehicles that are turned back – including HGVs. Meadgate is a residential road, with many cars parking on the road side, along with schools and shops, which poses a safety risk. Forcing a lorry to turn around from the Army & Navy to then drive all the way along Meadgate and then to the bypass is going to cause more noise and pollution on an otherwise quiet road. For example, people living at the top of Meadgate can currently enjoy a 1.2 mile drive that takes around 5 minutes. With this change, their journey will increase to 3.6 miles, and take 10 minutes.
Finally, there is the question of whether the other changes to the Army & Navy will provide enough extra traffic. If busses are given any priority to access the roundabout, this would suggest that traffic coming from the bypass will be hindered even more than it already is, and with more cars forced on to the bypass, we will see longer queues.