The ArgusHighway to hell: When will the A27 be sorted? (From The Argus)

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Highway to hell: When will the A27 be sorted?

Stretching more than 200 miles from Devon to Kent, the trunk road through Sussex was supposed to be the superhighway saviour of the south coast.

Instead, for many motorists faced with the misery of daily delays on the A27, the busiest road in the county has become a highway to hell.

Hemmed in by the sea to the south and the Downs to the north, frustrated drivers trying to get across the county are faced with hours of tailbacks every week – even without the curse of accidents.

Notorious bottlenecks at Worthing, Arundel, Chichester and eastwards from Lewes often bring traffic grinding to a halt.

The delays are estimated to cost the Sussex economy £2 billion a year.

Mark Froud, the chief executive of Sussex Enterprise, the county’s chamber of commerce, said that represents a £29,000 loss for every business in the county.

Motoring campaigner Steve Percy said investment in the A27 was urgently needed as traffic volumes increase on the busy trunk road.

He said: “It’s tough for drivers on the A27 at the moment.

“People don’t want to be spending two hours on the road when it should take 20 minutes but that’s what’s happening. We need bypasses to be built because drivers deserve better.

“There are too many accidents, too many roadworks and far too many delays. This is supposed to be the main artery across Sussex but it’s simply not working. At the end of the day the public are having to pay the price for the dysfunctional A27.

“The authorities need to get their heads together and start investing in the road before it is too late.”

Campaigners have been battling for bypasses to be built around Arundel and Worthing for decades.

But a Highways Agency spokesman said the schemes were not on their “radar” – and that the earliest they would even be considered was 2020.

He said: "We currently have no plans for a bypass around Worthing or Arundel and there are no current plans to develop other major improvement schemes for the A27 at this time.”

Worthing has been battling for more than 30 years for a bypass. After four public inquiries the Government eventually decided its preferred option was to widen the existing road through the town before suddenly axing the scheme in 1996.

As a result traffic between Lancing and Swandean Hospital is frequently snarled up in both directions, hitting businesses as well as drivers.

Earlier this year a high powered delegation from Sussex visited the Department for Transport to lobby for the Worthing bypass to be put back on the drawing board.

The party, which included three MPs, council leaders and business chiefs, said it would improve the local economy and residents’ lives.

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton said: “Improvements to the A27 are long overdue and are now having a material effect on business investment, as well as quality of life for local residents. None of these factors are new, but the situation has continued to deteriorate.

“Five wards in Worthing feature in national multiple poverty indices, yet similar deprived areas in the north of the country have received much more significant infrastructure spending.

“The delegation left the Commons in an upbeat mood having received a very sympathetic hearing from the Secretary of State. He suggested that a future scheme could be included in the next spending round, following improvements to the Chichester stretch of the A27 due after 2015.”

Yet there is no guarantee that the Chichester project will be given the go-ahead, as the scheme will be competing for funding alongside 13 others from across the UK.

In October 2010, during the government’s last spending review, 14 schemes were put forward for funding, none of which were Sussex-based.

Neither the Arundel or Worthing bypass proposals will be given the chance of a green light in the next spending review due in 2014/15 either.

Ian Fenwick, the chairman of Arundel chamber of commerce, said a bypass around the town was essential for businesses in the area to flourish.

He said: “The Highways Agency seems to be a law unto itself. It has have done so many studies which repeatedly show there is a real need for a bypass, but it doesn’t act on them.”

Last week traders in Arundel said traffic queues through A27 roadworks at the busy junction at Crossbush were turning customers away from visiting shops and cafés.

As soon as temporary traffic lights were installed in the roadworks on March 13, the road became gridlocked with drivers stuck in miles of jams.

Small businesses put up posters at the roadside to try to tempt motorists into the town.

Mr Fenwick said: “What’s the point of all the studies if the Highways Agency is not going to follow up on the findings?”

As well as problems with traffic volumes, road safety campaigners have called for major improvements to blackspots on the A27 where accidents have claimed many lives.

More than 80 people have died and almost 5,000 have been injured in more than 3,400 collisions on the road in Sussex over the last decade.

Last month a young boy was seriously injured when he was struck by a car outside his school in Lancing.

Further east, a stretch of road near Firle has been dubbed ‘Death Mile’ after a series of fatal accidents including a four car pile-up last December in which an elderly woman was killed.

Some users have called for the road to be widened from a single to a dual carriageway to improve safety and ease congestion.

But the Highways Agency insists widening the road would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

A spokesman said: “Dualling this section would be a major undertaking, involving major earthworks in an area bordering the South Downs National Park and it would not represent good value for taxpayers’ money.”

Transport minister Norman Baker, the MP for Lewes, agreed and suggested that the A27 in his area required “a few tweaks” but that major investment was not a realistic prospect.

He said: “There are two areas of the road in my constituency that still need improvement. The road east of Selmeston near Alciston needs work and there is also a need for a safer turning area at the crossroads at Wilmington. I have asked the Highways Agency for further improvements to be made in these areas.

“But there are no plans to build a dual carriageway on what is precious land. These plans have been rejected before and there are no plans to do that in the near future. It would cost around £100 million to do that.

“In any case it’s not fair to assume that the dual carriageway would ease congestion because that is not necessarily the case. For instance there are delays on the M25 and that’s a dual carriageway.”

Neil Hopkins, from Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, said: “We work closely with our partners in the Highways Agency to identify areas with a clear need for some intervention to increase safety and of course would welcome any further investment into this major pan-Sussex route to help increase the road's safety record.

“Investment has been made on this road in the past which has decreased collisions – an immediate example is the junction work and red road surface applied at Charleston Farm House.”

What do you think? Where on the A27 is work needed most urgently?

Comments (24)

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8:14am Tue 20 Mar 12

alan52 says...

So when was Portsmouth in Devon.. the A27 runs from Portsmouth to Polegate in East Sussex.. someone needs to go back to school
So when was Portsmouth in Devon.. the A27 runs from Portsmouth to Polegate in East Sussex.. someone needs to go back to school alan52
  • Score: 0

8:18am Tue 20 Mar 12

EastbourneAnt says...

I've now been driving the A27 between Eastbourne and Brighton for 16 years and to say the road is dangerous would be an understatement. The problem is the continual development in the Eastbourne area, more people moving to the town yet having to commute across the county for work. In addition the opening of the Polgate and Pevensey by-passes has taken traffic travelling from the Bexhill and Hastings area off the A271 and A22 and onto the A27.

Before any further development is to be undertaken within Eastbourne substantial improvements are required to handle the expanding traffic volume. The final development of many hundreds of homes at Friday Street Farm should be blocked.

I would also incourage drivers to use the centre of Lewes as a route to work since the Lewes MP Norman Baker is so against by-passes and dual carriage ways, yet this is something Lewes benefits from.

I would also question the so called improvements Charleston Farm, it is still an accident black spot.
I've now been driving the A27 between Eastbourne and Brighton for 16 years and to say the road is dangerous would be an understatement. The problem is the continual development in the Eastbourne area, more people moving to the town yet having to commute across the county for work. In addition the opening of the Polgate and Pevensey by-passes has taken traffic travelling from the Bexhill and Hastings area off the A271 and A22 and onto the A27. Before any further development is to be undertaken within Eastbourne substantial improvements are required to handle the expanding traffic volume. The final development of many hundreds of homes at Friday Street Farm should be blocked. I would also incourage drivers to use the centre of Lewes as a route to work since the Lewes MP Norman Baker is so against by-passes and dual carriage ways, yet this is something Lewes benefits from. I would also question the so called improvements Charleston Farm, it is still an accident black spot. EastbourneAnt
  • Score: 1

8:19am Tue 20 Mar 12

NickBrt says...

What do u expext from argus 'reporters'!
What do u expext from argus 'reporters'! NickBrt
  • Score: 0

8:30am Tue 20 Mar 12

alan52 says...

seems to be the norm today NickBrt
seems to be the norm today NickBrt alan52
  • Score: 0

8:39am Tue 20 Mar 12

GreggWallace says...

Ahhh the secret A27, the one that pretends it's the A31 and then the A35 so far as Honiton.

Sneaky road.
Ahhh the secret A27, the one that pretends it's the A31 and then the A35 so far as Honiton. Sneaky road. GreggWallace
  • Score: 0

8:42am Tue 20 Mar 12

fredaj says...

The road is borked and I doubt any amount of fiddling with it is going to greatly improve the situation - the real problem is the road has too many junctions and these are operating beyond their capacity at busy times.

The traffic lights at the Sussex Pad, the Manor roundabout at Lancing, the traffic lights at Busticle Lane, on to Lyons Farm are just solid morning and night.

But what can be done to improve them? At the moment they just mess about with the traffic light phasing, meaning that the bottle necks travel up and down the road, seemingly randomly on different days of the week so that you never know which route is going to be blocked solid and which are relatively free moving. And when it rains and there is less foot traffic using the pedestrian crossing at the Manor roundabout, it becomes almost impossible to get out of Lancing onto the A27 going towards Brighton and the queue down Grindstead Lane goes all the way past the railway line.

So - flatten all the houses and widen the road? Build on the Downs? Tunnel under the Downs?

I'm told there was planning permission to tunnel under Lancing Ring so surely this old scheme could be resurrected if there was enough will (and money) to do so.

Or is it too late now?

Do we just put a sign up saying the South East is now full?
The road is borked and I doubt any amount of fiddling with it is going to greatly improve the situation - the real problem is the road has too many junctions and these are operating beyond their capacity at busy times. The traffic lights at the Sussex Pad, the Manor roundabout at Lancing, the traffic lights at Busticle Lane, on to Lyons Farm are just solid morning and night. But what can be done to improve them? At the moment they just mess about with the traffic light phasing, meaning that the bottle necks travel up and down the road, seemingly randomly on different days of the week so that you never know which route is going to be blocked solid and which are relatively free moving. And when it rains and there is less foot traffic using the pedestrian crossing at the Manor roundabout, it becomes almost impossible to get out of Lancing onto the A27 going towards Brighton and the queue down Grindstead Lane goes all the way past the railway line. So - flatten all the houses and widen the road? Build on the Downs? Tunnel under the Downs? I'm told there was planning permission to tunnel under Lancing Ring so surely this old scheme could be resurrected if there was enough will (and money) to do so. Or is it too late now? Do we just put a sign up saying the South East is now full? fredaj
  • Score: 0

8:43am Tue 20 Mar 12

GreggWallace says...

On a more serious note, if the HA believe dualling is a waste of money, first I want to stick their head down the pan and flush it. Secondly, they are admitting that the 'investment' (otherwise known as random tarmac flinging) they have put in to dual the bits and pieces here and there, are a waste of money, improper use of public money and the smoking gun we need to nail these guys for mismanaged funds.

But it's not is it. It's a limp wristed excuse for some pathetic drone to trot out because the Highways Agency excel at waffle and not what they're there to do, invest in the infrastructure.
On a more serious note, if the HA believe dualling is a waste of money, first I want to stick their head down the pan and flush it. Secondly, they are admitting that the 'investment' (otherwise known as random tarmac flinging) they have put in to dual the bits and pieces here and there, are a waste of money, improper use of public money and the smoking gun we need to nail these guys for mismanaged funds. But it's not is it. It's a limp wristed excuse for some pathetic drone to trot out because the Highways Agency excel at waffle and not what they're there to do, invest in the infrastructure. GreggWallace
  • Score: 0

8:45am Tue 20 Mar 12

GreggWallace says...

Actually third comment from me because I think the Highways Agency stinks.

Great, our national agency, our proud bastion of building good transport links for us and future generations considers a splodge of red paint investment.

They are seriously misguided.
Actually third comment from me because I think the Highways Agency stinks. Great, our national agency, our proud bastion of building good transport links for us and future generations considers a splodge of red paint investment. They are seriously misguided. GreggWallace
  • Score: 0

9:02am Tue 20 Mar 12

Spanners says...

2 billion a year cannot be right? Its early I need more coffee but I cant believe the A27 is responsible for the loss of 1% of UK GDP.......however busy and dangerous it is
2 billion a year cannot be right? Its early I need more coffee but I cant believe the A27 is responsible for the loss of 1% of UK GDP.......however busy and dangerous it is Spanners
  • Score: -1

9:08am Tue 20 Mar 12

Joshiman says...

Its always the same problem.Traffic lights.Too many of them making the suppliers extremely rich with Council contracts.Traffic light control must be run by amateurs.There is the cause of Gridlock everywhere especially Brighton.
Whats wrong with mini roundabouts lit up at night with solar lighting.?
Its always the same problem.Traffic lights.Too many of them making the suppliers extremely rich with Council contracts.Traffic light control must be run by amateurs.There is the cause of Gridlock everywhere especially Brighton. Whats wrong with mini roundabouts lit up at night with solar lighting.? Joshiman
  • Score: 0

9:12am Tue 20 Mar 12

Crystal Ball says...

GreggWallace wrote:
Ahhh the secret A27, the one that pretends it's the A31 and then the A35 so far as Honiton.

Sneaky road.
Is it the one that's only seen every 100yrs in the moonlight? A bit like the village in Brigadoon?
[quote][p][bold]GreggWallace[/bold] wrote: Ahhh the secret A27, the one that pretends it's the A31 and then the A35 so far as Honiton. Sneaky road.[/p][/quote]Is it the one that's only seen every 100yrs in the moonlight? A bit like the village in Brigadoon? Crystal Ball
  • Score: 0

9:48am Tue 20 Mar 12

Will600000 says...

alan52 wrote:
So when was Portsmouth in Devon.. the A27 runs from Portsmouth to Polegate in East Sussex.. someone needs to go back to school
That's made me smile! Seeing as you went to the trouble of correcting the article, I would have thought you would want your facts in order !
The A27 actually runs from It's junction with the A36 at Whiteparish (near Salisbury) in the county of Wiltshire and terminates at Pevensey (near Eastbourne and Bexhill) in East Sussex.
[quote][p][bold]alan52[/bold] wrote: So when was Portsmouth in Devon.. the A27 runs from Portsmouth to Polegate in East Sussex.. someone needs to go back to school[/p][/quote]That's made me smile! Seeing as you went to the trouble of correcting the article, I would have thought you would want your facts in order ! The A27 actually runs from It's junction with the A36 at Whiteparish (near Salisbury) in the county of Wiltshire and terminates at Pevensey (near Eastbourne and Bexhill) in East Sussex. Will600000
  • Score: 1

10:08am Tue 20 Mar 12

That's not unreasonable says...

Folkestone to Honiton through road... except for Sussex which is a disaster. Disgraceful undfer investment means that from Chichester to Worthing and beyond is a farce.
Folkestone to Honiton through road... except for Sussex which is a disaster. Disgraceful undfer investment means that from Chichester to Worthing and beyond is a farce. That's not unreasonable
  • Score: 0

10:30am Tue 20 Mar 12

fredaj says...

Joshiman wrote:
Its always the same problem.Traffic lights.Too many of them making the suppliers extremely rich with Council contracts.Traffic light control must be run by amateurs.There is the cause of Gridlock everywhere especially Brighton.
Whats wrong with mini roundabouts lit up at night with solar lighting.?
Mini roundabouts on the A27?

I don't think that will work.
[quote][p][bold]Joshiman[/bold] wrote: Its always the same problem.Traffic lights.Too many of them making the suppliers extremely rich with Council contracts.Traffic light control must be run by amateurs.There is the cause of Gridlock everywhere especially Brighton. Whats wrong with mini roundabouts lit up at night with solar lighting.?[/p][/quote]Mini roundabouts on the A27? I don't think that will work. fredaj
  • Score: 0

10:42am Tue 20 Mar 12

Jo Wadsworth says...

Thanks for all the comments about the error in the first par - it's now been corrected.

The worst thing is, I make that journey fairly regularly, so I really should have spotted it .
Thanks for all the comments about the error in the first par - it's now been corrected. The worst thing is, I make that journey fairly regularly, so I really should have spotted it . Jo Wadsworth
  • Score: 0

11:18am Tue 20 Mar 12

GreggWallace says...

The article now says Kent. The A259 takes over at Pevensey for the leg into Kent...

And the A259 isn't exactly the pinnacle of 21st Century Transportation, that slog through Bexhill/St Leonards/Hastings/Or
e is just torrid.
The article now says Kent. The A259 takes over at Pevensey for the leg into Kent... And the A259 isn't exactly the pinnacle of 21st Century Transportation, that slog through Bexhill/St Leonards/Hastings/Or e is just torrid. GreggWallace
  • Score: 0

12:04pm Tue 20 Mar 12

graham_Seagull says...

so dual this bit, that bit, then what in 20 years when it's full again?
so dual this bit, that bit, then what in 20 years when it's full again? graham_Seagull
  • Score: 0

12:10pm Tue 20 Mar 12

bill porter says...

The bypass route already exists but nobody in the tory heartlands would dare propose it as it goes through their constituencies. Widen the A283 from Steyning, put a bypass in around Storrington, follow the road down around Amberley to the top of Arundel and then widen the A29 to meet up with the A27 at Fontwell.
The bypass route already exists but nobody in the tory heartlands would dare propose it as it goes through their constituencies. Widen the A283 from Steyning, put a bypass in around Storrington, follow the road down around Amberley to the top of Arundel and then widen the A29 to meet up with the A27 at Fontwell. bill porter
  • Score: 0

12:14pm Tue 20 Mar 12

rolivan says...

We seem to have the most expensive Public transport and the poorest Road Network?yet contribute most to the Goverment coffers Maybe it is time to get a group together and say enough is enough.
We seem to have the most expensive Public transport and the poorest Road Network?yet contribute most to the Goverment coffers Maybe it is time to get a group together and say enough is enough. rolivan
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Tue 20 Mar 12

Will600000 says...

rolivan wrote:
We seem to have the most expensive Public transport and the poorest Road Network?yet contribute most to the Goverment coffers Maybe it is time to get a group together and say enough is enough.
Sounds a bit militant :-)
When the uk does say enough is enough (petrol prices), what will happen? More Riots?
[quote][p][bold]rolivan[/bold] wrote: We seem to have the most expensive Public transport and the poorest Road Network?yet contribute most to the Goverment coffers Maybe it is time to get a group together and say enough is enough.[/p][/quote]Sounds a bit militant :-) When the uk does say enough is enough (petrol prices), what will happen? More Riots? Will600000
  • Score: 0

1:02pm Tue 20 Mar 12

Spanners says...

rolivan wrote:
We seem to have the most expensive Public transport and the poorest Road Network?yet contribute most to the Goverment coffers Maybe it is time to get a group together and say enough is enough.
There is such a group already, they are called the electorate. Problem is such a small percentage of them bother to vote even in a general election let alone be politically active in any other way
[quote][p][bold]rolivan[/bold] wrote: We seem to have the most expensive Public transport and the poorest Road Network?yet contribute most to the Goverment coffers Maybe it is time to get a group together and say enough is enough.[/p][/quote]There is such a group already, they are called the electorate. Problem is such a small percentage of them bother to vote even in a general election let alone be politically active in any other way Spanners
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Tue 20 Mar 12

That's not unreasonable says...

graham_Seagull wrote:
so dual this bit, that bit, then what in 20 years when it's full again?
Just make it like Hampshire and even Dorset. Traveling (Do not delete this it is not about 'that sort') East from Dorset is a breeze until you reach the first roundabout at Chichester and then it is a nightmare. The Arundel 'Road to nowhere' at Crossbush the farce that is Worthing (I know!) and then breeze past Brighton reach Lewes and 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here'
[quote][p][bold]graham_Seagull[/bold] wrote: so dual this bit, that bit, then what in 20 years when it's full again?[/p][/quote]Just make it like Hampshire and even Dorset. Traveling (Do not delete this it is not about 'that sort') East from Dorset is a breeze until you reach the first roundabout at Chichester and then it is a nightmare. The Arundel 'Road to nowhere' at Crossbush the farce that is Worthing (I know!) and then breeze past Brighton reach Lewes and 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here' That's not unreasonable
  • Score: 0

4:22pm Tue 20 Mar 12

That's not unreasonable says...

Highway to Hell is a bit strong! Folkestone is getting a little rough round the edges but Hell!
Highway to Hell is a bit strong! Folkestone is getting a little rough round the edges but Hell! That's not unreasonable
  • Score: 0

6:06pm Tue 20 Mar 12

graham_Seagull says...

That's not unreasonable wrote:
graham_Seagull wrote:
so dual this bit, that bit, then what in 20 years when it's full again?
Just make it like Hampshire and even Dorset. Traveling (Do not delete this it is not about 'that sort') East from Dorset is a breeze until you reach the first roundabout at Chichester and then it is a nightmare. The Arundel 'Road to nowhere' at Crossbush the farce that is Worthing (I know!) and then breeze past Brighton reach Lewes and 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here'
I know it's a relative breeze as I drive that route every day - I'm just about to go and drive it again now.
The govt estimates there will be 44% more traffic on our roads by 2035, and no amount of road building can handle that volume. We run the risk of concreting over the bits that we like in the South.
The problem is that poor planning and govt policies mean out of town shopping means cars everywhere. Plus people travel to jobs now whereas in the past jobs were in the neighborhood.
We seriously need to think about why people want to get in a car as it sure isn't about the 'freedom to travel'!!
[quote][p][bold]That's not unreasonable[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]graham_Seagull[/bold] wrote: so dual this bit, that bit, then what in 20 years when it's full again?[/p][/quote]Just make it like Hampshire and even Dorset. Traveling (Do not delete this it is not about 'that sort') East from Dorset is a breeze until you reach the first roundabout at Chichester and then it is a nightmare. The Arundel 'Road to nowhere' at Crossbush the farce that is Worthing (I know!) and then breeze past Brighton reach Lewes and 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here'[/p][/quote]I know it's a relative breeze as I drive that route every day - I'm just about to go and drive it again now. The govt estimates there will be 44% more traffic on our roads by 2035, and no amount of road building can handle that volume. We run the risk of concreting over the bits that we like in the South. The problem is that poor planning and govt policies mean out of town shopping means cars everywhere. Plus people travel to jobs now whereas in the past jobs were in the neighborhood. We seriously need to think about why people want to get in a car as it sure isn't about the 'freedom to travel'!! graham_Seagull
  • Score: 0

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