LETTER: A27: No solution for Portfield

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Whatever advantages or demerits (mostly the latter) there may be in each of the reduced number of five options now on the table for A27 improvements, they all share one glaring fault.

Highways England have no solution of their own for the present hold-ups at the Portfield roundabout or for the jams that are bound to continue there, even after the chosen improvement scheme has been implemented – at untold cost in terms of disruption of movement and destruction of buildings.

In two of the options (3 & 3A) HE are leaving it up to the Shopwyke Lake developers to come up with a scheme of their own for the roundabout, which is as much a dereliction of responsibility as it is an optimistically fond belief in the generosity and expertise of a commercial development company.

In the other three options HE have boldly stepped in with their own scheme – namely the painting of three lanes of white lines around a substantially unaltered roundabout.

Thanks to the highhanded closure of the Oving junction and the elimination of traffic lights at that point, eastbound traffic will speed from the Whyke junction over the new Bognor Road flyover and across the eliminated Oving Road crossing only to pile up at the Portfield junction. At this point local traffic wishing to gain access to the retail areas will be jockeying with through traffic. Meanwhile, through traffic will be held up by having to give priority to the right, from where westbound traffic coming from Fontwell, Arundel, Worthing etc. will be seeking its own access to Chichester via the Westhampnett Road and St James ‘gateway’ to the city. (For the word gateway, supply your own description of that inadequate entrance, such as “Eye of a Needle”.)

To that westbound traffic there will be added the vehicles of the inhabitants of the new Shopwyke residential areas whose traditional and logical access to the city will have been amputated, forcing them to join the A27 at a point east of Portfield. (At the Tangmere roundabout? Or an adapted Westhampnett junction?) All power and persuasion, therefore, to The Observer’s support for the campaign to keep the Oving lights and to the planning application to save them.

My comments above are intended to highlight just one of many deficiencies in HE’s current proposals for fixing the problem of the A27 around Chichester.

Fortunately, thanks to the public’s keen involvement in the consultations and their critical analysis that is so evident in The Observer’s correspondence pages, there is a growing awareness of HE’s blinkered attitude to the effect of its schemes on adjacent roads and local people’s needs. This is particularly evident in the swell of scepticism rising around Option 2, the ‘darling’ of the authority and the sweetmeat dangled in front of the heavy haulage companies whose vehicles seek access to the A27 from the city or from the Manhood Peninsular.

Thank goodness the sleepy Canal Trust has just woken up to the destructive threat of the southern link road that would invade the one area of genuine rural tranquillity that can still be reached on a short walk from the bus and train stations and city centre. Thank goodness people are foreseeing the cancer of rat runs it would create in the already clogged country roads to the south of Chichester. Thank goodness the public has questioned the competence of a Highways Authority that has drawn up plans in ignorance of the existence of the Canal Walk housing area in Donnington there for all to see and in ignorance of the future site of the Free School officially designated near the Wyke junction.

No surprise that The Observer’s own poll of public opinion now puts the “No option” answer as the leader, ahead of the pernicious Option 2. How, I wonder, would that poll read if a northern route were to be re-introduced into the mix of options? Through traffic totally separated from local traffic. No disruption during the building period. The present ‘bypass’ returned to its original capability of handling all the needs of local business and travel. Two roads for the price of one! It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Christian Arnold

Goodwood Gardens

Runcton