Feedback from the public is playing a key role in shaping transport improvements in Warrington town centre.
Last December, the council carried out its active travel consultation, asking for people’s views on proposals to making a number of temporary measures in the town centre into permanent features – with the aims of reducing through traffic and supporting people to walk and cycle within the town centre.
The consultation feedback has been analysed and while there was strong support for the measures from a number of respondents, the council is now proposing to adapt its approach to take on board a number of concerns which were raised through the engagement process.
Some people were concerned about the restrictions in the Cultural Quarter around the Museum and Palmyra Gardens and the council has decided not to install these measures permanently, but to adapt them to improve drivers’ opportunities to exit the area via Bold Street.
The council will continue to monitor these measures for a number of months while the longer term effects of Covid on traffic levels are better understood and once the Centre Park Link scheme is up and running.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for economic development and innovation, Cllr Tom Jennings, said: “Reducing the impact of through traffic, and encouraging walking and cycling will make our town centre a more attractive place to live, work, and set up shop. I’m grateful to the businesses that took part in the consultation to make sure we have the right measures in place. Based on their feedback, it is right that we revise the measures in the Cultural Quarter and monitor the situation over the coming months.”
Concerns were also raised around the reduction in the number of lanes at Bridgefoot gyratory on the approach from the west via Wilson Patten Street. Some responses aired concerns about the impact on congestion and whether the pedestrian demands were high enough to justify the improvements.
The council has reviewed these comments carefully, but believes that these improvements should proceed. In terms of congestion impact, the Centre Park Link scheme will open fully to through traffic in the coming weeks and will provide a significant relief to this junction, with the demand for right turning traffic in particular reduced.
Traffic modelling has been carried out and the junction is predicted to work efficiently with two lanes, both now and in future years. The location is also one of the most important pedestrian and cycle gateways into the town centre. Surveys carried out pre- Covid showed that 3,200 people used this crossing on a daily basis.
Cabinet Member for Transportation, highways and public realm, Cllr Hans Mundry, said ’We have considered closely the comments made about the Bridgefoot gyratory, but continue to feel that these measures are justified – and an important part of making the town centre more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.
“These specific improvements will complete the Chester Road Cycleway scheme and also take advantage of the opportunity that Centre Park Link gives us to manage traffic around that part of the town centre.”
These Chester Road Cycleway scheme is programmed to start in the coming weeks and will include the works at Bridgefoot. Further details can be found online at warrington.gov.uk/chesterrdcycleway
The other main element of the proposals that were consulted on is the installation of a bus gate on Scotland Road to allow buses, taxis and cyclists to pass through the town centre, whilst at the same time restricting any rat-running. This would replace the current restrictions on Winwick Street near the bus station and allow a taxi rank which is currently suspended to come back into operation.
While some concerns were raised around the impact on through traffic, no concerns were raised around access into and out of the businesses in that part of the town centre, which will change but will be maintained for all.
The council now plans to develop this scheme through a detail design process and deliver in the coming months, using funding awarded through the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund.
Further details on the above scheme and a copy of the full consultation report can be found at warrington.gov.uk/walking-and-cycling-restart-coronavirus-update