|Who wants to make HGV journeys use more fuel?|
Weasely Wiltshire Council has imposed a weight limit on the Westbury Station Road railway over-bridge. HGVs to & from the Trading Estates have to go around Yarnbrook and back through the town of Westbury. Many HGVs are actually going several extra miles - because of WC's counter-productive weight restriction.
Rather than have an integrated scheme which took into account agreed policies and looked to the future, Wiltshire Council had
an undercover contrivance to force all HGVs accessing the Westbury Trading Estates, which are on the West, to go a long way
around on its Eastern Westbury Bypass & Glenmore Link Road.
For many on Westbury's trading estates, the way in and out has always been through Station Road.
Other businesses and all those getting to Westbury Railway Station also need to use Station Road.
Wiltshire Council was trying to make the most of a new and contradictory weak bridge restriction.
This further information was anyway drawn out of Wiltshire County Council by the Inquiry Inspectors.
The information is not in the Westbury Bypass planning application, nor shown at WCC's 2007 exhibition.
Restrictions on Station Road do not stop HGVs on the A350 from continuing to be driven through Westbury. HGV journeys to/from the trading estates are now having a worse effect. But the Station Road restrictions slanted the calculated HGV flow forecasts to make the WCC eastern bypass scheme look better than it was.
WCC's Station Road weak bridge story emerged only lately. It does not seem to add up. You might think that if this bridge had to be restricted to only 3T, or now 7.5T, which excludes lorries & buses, there must be a fundamental safety issue. You might think that an emergency CLOSURE may have been needed. But heavy lorries and buses (with people inside...) have been going over the weak bridge...! It was observed not so long ago that this weak bridge was withstanding about a 100T weight of backed-up lorries. And why not strengthen the bridge? Apparently, this is national policy and there is funding allocated. The Inquiry Inspectors questioned Wiltshire County Council about strengthening the bridge. Wiltshire County Council apparently acknowledged that, even after the bridge is strengthened, a weight limit would still be applied...
The 2007 WCC plans included the proposed Eastern Westbury Bypass, an alternative Western bypass route (with direct access to the A36) and the weight limits in the area - though no weight limit on Station Road...
In January 2007, the Westbury Bypass Alliance had met with Wiltshire County Council's highways engineers, where they were
asked: how will WCC avoid unwanted heavy traffic continuing to go through Westbury?
Wiltshire County Council's highways engineers had further thoughts, because, by the time of the WCC Westbury Bypass Exhibition in June '07, there were some new details about reducing Station Road railway over-bridge to a single lane with traffic control. It was said then that this was to introduce a cycle-way. There is no cycle-way system on this road. The plan had no purpose other than to restrict Station Road.
We realised that WCC's claimed 96% reduction in HGVs on Station Road as shown for an Eastern bypass was actually to be contrived by slipping-in restrictions on Station Road. The Inquiry Inspectors further observed that WCC did not take the same restrictions into account for the comparative Western route.
Although, like the rest of the Wiltshire public, we were still unaware of our County Council's full intentions, in February '08, the Westbury Bypass Alliance sent a letter to businesses on the Westbury trading estates, which included saying that the longest traffic delays in the area, at Yarnbrook and West Ashton, would get worse if an eastern bypass opened. Wiltshire County Council dropped Yarnbrook and West Ashton bypasses from its original plan, for its bid for funding in 2003. Northbound journeys to the M4 would face even worse delays than now. On southbound trips to the A36 from the Northacre trading estate, the journey distance to Madbrook could be doubled. To force heavy lorries to take a long diversion via an eastern A350 bypass, the new restrictions would hinder HGVs from using Station Road as a route to and from the trading estates.
This and more subsequently emerged before the Inspectors at the Planning Inquiry. Corroboration that an eastern bypass would have meant more fuel burnt is proved by WCC's scheme's increased carbon emission. Wiltshire County Council seemed complacent about it, not mentioning the embarrassing extra CO2 emission in its letter about the new information and misleadingly telling us in the media that there is no alternative. You have to painstakingly read through WCC's report [in the pdf file, p.2] to see that an eastern bypass would have created 385 tonnes of extra greenhouse-gas emissions from road traffic in its opening year.
Such a negative effect, against UK policy and all reason, has now sunk WCC's eastern bypass scheme.
Well..., for Wiltshire County Council, as we have so often been told, it was 'eastern bypass or nothing'.
Yet in the northbound direction from the Westbury trading estates, WCC's alternative Far Western route would be a shorter
journey out on the A350 to the M4 than via WCC's Eastern Bypass scheme. Unlike the Eastern Bypass scheme, the Far
Western route incorporates a Yarnbrook bypass, where present congestion is such that there are 20 minute tail-backs, so
fuel-wasting (and atmospheric emission) would be much less. In the southbound direction from the Westbury trading estates,
WCC's Far Western route would be a similar HGV journey distance to the A350/A36 junction at Warminster compared to WCC's
Eastern Bypass scheme. But the alternative Far Western route has the advantage of being able to provide direct western
For the Northacre Trading Estate, WCC’s Eastern Bypass and Glenmore Link involved a convoluted route through the separate West Wilts Trading Estate. The Far Western route offers a direct way to the A36 - which many HGV drivers would naturally use - without a need for counter-productive artificial restrictions.
A western way providing proper access for the station and trading estates would be genuinely worthwhile.
Regardless of what you may have been told by WCC, who would really want to have more HGV fuel burnt?
Station Road railway over-bridge should be strengthened for full use. The cycle route should stay as it is.
Wiltshire County Council appeared to have gone about the matter in a misleading and contradictory manner.
A consequence of Wiltshire Council's counter-productive ban on HGVs accessing Westbury's Trading Estates via Station Road is that further heavy goods vehicles are going through West End and Westbury's streets.
Wiltshire Council seems to be determined that HGVs have to go long ways around and burn more fuel.
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