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DUDLEY ROAD: Model shows Dudley Road traffic increase

DUDLEY ROAD: Model shows Dudley Road traffic increase

Image: LDRS

Dudley Road could see traffic levels increase by a whopping 28 per cent by 2037 according to modelling published by Birmingham City Council.

Documents setting out the case for the Dudley Road Improvement Scheme – which the city council is seeking funding for from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund – include mention of the potential rise.

The city council has said it is doing all it can to ensure this does not come to pass – including through its Birmingham Transport Plan and Route to Zero, its plan to tackle the climate emergency.

But an environmental campaigner has criticised the council for designing a scheme for the A457 which “simply provides for increasing traffic levels” rather than putting more thought into active travel and public transport.

A bid to the Levelling Up Fund for the scheme gained cabinet approval in June following the addition of public transport, walking and cycling improvements last year – but the project remains controversial due to elements of “road widening”.

The council has said the scheme is needed to provide for a planned 3,000 new homes in the Greater Icknield area – with the potential for up to 5,000.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “Over the next five years, lots of new housing will be built near Dudley Road within Icknield Port Loop, City Hospital Development and Soho Loop Development.

“This significant increase in housing will increase the number of people wanting to travel in the area.

“Our proposals for the Dudley Road are intended to support these housing developments with transport infrastructure, including provision for active travel (walking and cycling) and improvements for bus services.

“The traffic modelling includes a scenario for a 28 per cent increase in traffic in 2037, compared with the 2016 baseline data.

“This increase is based on Department for Transport (Dft) TEMPro (Trip End Model Presentation Program) forecasts and includes the increased demand related to the above housing developments.”

The council said the figure cannot be used “as a proxy for city wide forecast traffic growth”.

The spokesperson added: “The modelling does not take account of any change in travel patterns as a result of Covid-19 as there remains significant uncertainty of the long term impacts.

“The modelling looks at this scheme in isolation; it does not assume any other transport schemes, such as those proposed in the draft Birmingham Transport Plan.

“Work is ongoing on the final Birmingham Transport Plan, an associated delivery plan and on how to calculate the impact of future schemes in terms of changed behaviour and carbon emissions.

“Historically, traffic models have focussed on forecast growth and of trips and vehicles, and how those vehicles will route through the network.

“Less emphasis has been placed on other changes to travel behaviour: people travelling less, changing mode or travelling at different times.

“This is a developing area of study: modelling guidance from the DfT is regularly updated and we follow the latest guidance for our work.

“Through Route to Zero and the Birmingham Transport Plan, Birmingham is committed to reducing trips by private car, with active travel (walking and cycling) becoming the first choice for shorter trips, public transport to be used for longer journeys, and those trips which must be made by private vehicle (e.g. deliveries, transporting bulky items, people with disabilities which preclude other modes of travel) shifted to cleaner, low and zero vehicles.”

A document which includes the scenario was released in response to a Freedom of Information request by environmental campaigner and Friends of the Earth member David Gaussen, 68, a retired IT support worker.

He said: “I think we need a pause to gather breath and wait to see how much traffic recovers as we hopefully slowly move out of the pandemic. This is no need at all for any immediate action.

“From my observation of being on the road on foot or by car, traffic levels are still way below 2019 levels.

“If transport forecasting is ‘a developing area of study’ then why not wait for it to be developed so that the job can be done properly?

“And why on earth would you base decisions on a transport forecasting model that ignores the very important policy changes in the Birmingham Transport policy?

“Any alternative scheme must be based entirely on the pillars of the Birmingham Transport Plan […] whereas the approach the traffic planners have always taken is that traffic is bound to rise due to new housing etc.

“They have assumed throughout that more traffic will lead to more jobs. But that’s not true if no one stops off along the road.

“Any new plans need to be based on understanding why traffic passes along this corridor, for example there is a lot of congestion in the morning as many parents drop their children off at St Patrick’s Catholic School.

“Could more children walk to school? New plans need to be developed working very closely with the community of people who live along or near the road.

“They have suffered years of neglect and lack of investment. They have suffered years of noise and bad air pollution, but their voices have been ignored.”

Friends of the Earth has previously opposed the scheme at its public consultation stage, arguing it “will encourage more and/or faster traffic” which will “result in a number of adverse environmental and health impacts”.

 

Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter


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