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Author Topic: A358 dualling in Somerset. New consultation launched.  (Read 1162 times)
bignosemac
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« on: January 16, 2018, 05:06:42 pm »

Today, 16th January 2018, Highways England have begun a new consultation on capacity improvements to the A358 between the A303 at Ilminster (Southfields) and junction 25 of the M5 for Taunton.

The previous consultation only offered up one option and was roundly criticised by the majority of interested parties.

Highways England have now produced a further three options, and are showcasing these at various events in the area.

Information on the new consultation, along with details of the new options can be found on the Highways England website.

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/taunton-to-southfields-dualling-scheme/

As someone who uses the A358 between Chard and Taunton/M5 on a regular basis, I have a keen interest in this consultation. I'm reading through the options and plan to attend one of the events in the coming days. Then I'll make my decision on which option I think is best.

I know we are a rail forum primarily, but I think this scheme is an important and much needed transport infrastructure improvement for Somerset and beyond. I've used it on numerous occasions to get to Taunton station!

I'd be interested to hear others opinions.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2019, 07:46:29 pm »

Nearly 18 months after the consultation was launched the Highways Agency have selected their preferred route.

The preferred option, if signed off by government, will see the A358, from the A303 at Southfields, Ilminster, to J25 of the M5 at Taunton, be dualled throughout. Minor junction improvements at the Ilminster end and major changes the the M5 J25 interchange at Blackbrook near Taunton. The new dual carriageway will  follow the alignment of the existing A358 from Southfields, excepting past Ashill where there will be a new alignment adjacent to the existing road. That's actually bypassing the Ashill Bypass built in the 1980s! Nearer Taunton the A358 will leave the existing alignment south of Thornfalcon and bypass the village of Henlade (the major bottleneck on the road currently) to the west. It's estimated that traffic through Henlade will reduce from a 'do nothing' prediction of 33,500 vehicles per day by 2038, down to just 4000. The old alignment through Henlade will be maintained as a local route for access to Henlade and the villages of Ruishton, Creech St Michael and Ash, and for traffic wishing to take the A378 to Langport and Somerton.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-somerset-48784217

Attached is the Preferred Route Option brochure from the Highways Agency.
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broadgage
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2019, 10:17:47 am »

I am opposed to this, and to most other, road widening and new road building schemes.
More roads/wider roads will encourage more traffic and result in more fossil fuel used, more climate change, more local pollution, and more congestion elsewhere at the ends of the improved section.

Better by far to encourage more use of railways and other public transport in order to REDUCE road traffic to a level that the EXISTING roads can cope with.

And whilst I live near the area involved, I am not being a NIMBY.
I do not expect any direct personal effect, and would feel the same about road expansion if hundreds of miles away.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
bignosemac
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« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2019, 12:42:06 pm »

Pray tell the rail journey alternatives from large parts of South Somerset to the county town? The freight alternatives too? And other public transport? Large parts of the area have no bus service and those that do have poor frequency with no evening and Sunday services. What of the local pollution through Henlade?

Through circumstance, rather than choice, I found myself living in the area. My transport choices were expensive, slow and infrequent buses, isolation, or learn to drive. I couldn't wait for some future public transport utopia with rail lines once again criss-crossing Somerset. It had to be the private car. Even now, with my third home in the area in a village with a rail station, I still need the car. Templecombe to Taunton can be done by rail, but its a huge dogleg via Exeter. Not at all practical.

I'd be 100% behind rebuilding and reopening rail routes across Somerset - Langport/Yeovil, Taunton/Chard, Bath/Dorset, Bridgwater/Evercreech - but the cold hard fact is none of them have any hope of ever becoming reality.

And it's not just local journeys. The A358 is part of the national strategic road network. With neither the A30 or A303 ever likely to see improvements through the Blackdown Hills AONB it falls to the A358 to carry the long distance south-east <-> south-west road traffic.

Motor vehicle users should not be punished for the aftermath of Beeching. We users of motor vehicles more than pay our way for road use.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 01:07:37 pm by bignosemac » Logged

Red Squirrel
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2019, 01:57:49 pm »


...the cold hard fact is none of them have any hope of ever becoming reality.


Just a few months ago I would have agreed with you. Now I'm not so sure. Maybe it was seeing several thousand passionate schoolkids marching up Park Street the other day demanding action on climate change, or perhaps it's watching the news as mainland Europe hits new record temperatures, but I find it hard not to hope that we are at or very close to a tipping point in terms of the public's accepting the need to take urgent, decisive action. Building new roads is simply the wrong thing to be doing.


We users of motor vehicles more than pay our way for road use.


That depends on how you measure it.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2019, 07:51:32 pm »

Quote from: bignosemac
Pray tell the rail journey alternatives from large parts of South Somerset to the county town? The freight alternatives too? And other public transport? Large parts of the area have no bus service and those that do have poor frequency with no evening and Sunday services. What of the local pollution through Henlade?

I'd be 100% behind rebuilding and reopening rail routes across Somerset - Langport/Yeovil, Taunton/Chard, Bath/Dorset, Bridgwater/Evercreech - but the cold hard fact is none of them have any hope of ever becoming reality.

I will respond to these two paragraphs in reverse order, as it were.

Many of us are old enough to have been around when the Beeching closures were taking place (although Bridgwater to Edington Burtle predated the rest of the final S&D closure by some 15 years so that was not part of them), and perhaps some of us did as I did in taking a trip along some about-to-close lines without the usual heavy traffic on the last day.

I travelled between Highbridge and Evercreech on one occasion in the year before closure where there were four people on the train for most of the way; of the other three, two of them were on the footplate and the other one was in the brake van. The same thing happened between Sharpness and Berkeley Road on the Thursday week before closure. This was how things were for the majority of the Beeching closures Ė put bluntly, there werenít enough bums on seats and there would never have been enough bums on seats to make these lines even break even because there was insufficient population along the routes that they served.

I canít remember it Iíve posted it on here before, but here is a link to my ticket scans for the York to Swindon train during 1965 and 1966, and the caption gives details of more loading figures, or lack of themÖ https://www.flickr.com/photos/93122458@N08/19913805372/

Certainly there were a few babies thrown out with the bath water under Beeching (especially on the old WR, but thatís another long story in itself), but in general these lines were basket cases, and still would be basket cases today even if they were still there.

Moving now to Macís first paragraph, whilst there is much to decry about bus deregulation, the simple fact is that if a bus operator thought that there was some brass to be made by operating a bus between A and B, then a bus service would exist. The fact, as Mac reports, that many of these towns and villages do not currently have a bus service, tells me a lot about the lack of traffic potential for a bus, let alone a reinstated railway.

I agree that something has to change, but Iím not sure that pouring subsidies into unprofitable public transport is the best change to make. It might sound completely unthinkable in this day and age, but the answer might be for rural areas to return to becoming more self-contained (as they were until the coming of the railways) and, if people wanted to travel around the country, then in the future they might need to think about living where the public transport is, rather than expecting the public transport to be sent to them.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2019, 09:26:16 pm »


...the cold hard fact is none of them have any hope of ever becoming reality.


Just a few months ago I would have agreed with you. Now I'm not so sure. Maybe it was seeing several thousand passionate schoolkids marching up Park Street the other day demanding action on climate change, or perhaps it's watching the news as mainland Europe hits new record temperatures, but I find it hard not to hope that we are at or very close to a tipping point in terms of the public's accepting the need to take urgent, decisive action.
Possibly so, but it's not really the public accepting it that matters. It's the politicians accepting that the public have accepted it.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2019, 10:41:37 pm »

Quote
I agree that something has to change, but Iím not sure that pouring subsidies into unprofitable public transport is the best change to make. It might sound completely unthinkable in this day and age, but the answer might be for rural areas to return to becoming more self-contained (as they were until the coming of the railways) and, if people wanted to travel around the country, then in the future they might need to think about living where the public transport is, rather than expecting the public transport to be sent to them.

...and this sentiment underlies an important element of current planning policy - development should be in places with adequate transport links (or should support investment in it) so as to reduce private car use for commuting and provide sustainable public transport. The problem is that this disadvantages areas already poorly served by public transport.

In the last century large swathes of rural Britain have become predominantly up-market dormitory areas for empty nesters and retirees. The jobs available in the countryside, particularly agriculture, have largely gone (and many were hard, poorly paid and unlikely to be attractive to jobseakers today). This has lead to the loss of rural services (both social  and commercial). It is probably an inevitable consequence of the social and economic changes, and trying to be "self contained" will probably mean foregoing many of the features of modern life most of us now take for granted.
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