Those A27 traffic jams have to ease

Alistair Smith says the A27 problems are a serious impediment to sustainable growth

Alistair Smith says the A27 problems are a serious impediment to sustainable growth

First published in Comment and Analysis

A stretch of the A27 between Brighton and Worthing could become as congested as the M25 by 2016, according to the Highways Agency. So what is the real cost of doing nothing on the A27?

Alistair Smith, chief executive of West Sussex Economic Partnership tells The Argus that business will continue to suffer if nothing is done.

The recent headline “A27 – worse than the M25” was smart journalism in catching attention.

But, sadly, it also reflects a genuine fear among businesses and economic developers that serious hopes of creating longterm sustainable economic growth on the coast could be dashed without improvements to this major trunk route.

There has been a 30-year war of words about the A27 and, if we don’t get our act together, it could end up being a hundred years war.

The fact of life is that the A27 is letting the coastal economy down.

I speak to businesses all the time and they say the congestion is a big threat.

Most want to stay on the coast, with all its advantage of quality of life and value, but if nothing much happens, there is a danger of energy being sucked out of them.

Their message has been very clear – the A27 is forcing them to consider moving away.

But it’s not only the threat of losing the companies here – it’s also mighty hard to attract new investment in a highly competitive global economy.

West Sussex does not enjoy the opportunities other areas of the country do, in being able to to offer large subsidies to incoming companies. It has to compete without incentives and the state of the transport infrastructure means it’s a bit like competing with one hand tied behind one’s back.

Imagine a potential investor travelling to Worthing via the M23/A23, cruising around Brighton on the A27 before reaching the traffic lights at the Sussex Pad. From there, it can be a long crawl through Lancing and Sompting before joining the Lyons Farm queue. (How did this large retail development obtain approval?) With the patience of our potential new employer ticking away and frustration growing, he or she could be forgiven for deciding not to invest in the town despite its desperate need for new investment. Another inescapable fear is the increased housing for the coast projected in the South East Plan.

We have consistently argued that in the hurry for houses, important as that is, local authorities must ensure that there is sufficient employment space so that there are new jobs for the new households.

Otherwise there could be a vicious circle of thousands of people who cannot get jobs because there are insufficient businesses, deterred by poor infrastructure, causing massive out-commuting – making the whole situation worse.

The coast desperately needs investment in the emerging regeneration schemes but as long as we delay and argue about transport solutions, a more prosperous coastal economy will be but a distant dream.

We need to get all the partners together to look at the whole problem. The great sadness in all of this is that while we’ve been talking about it for so long, possible solutions have drifted away.

The whole climate of the infrastructure debate has changed – not only have road building costs grown unimaginably but we now have a whole new environmental agenda to address.

So what should the priorities be for this partnership?

First let’s make sure the improvements at Chichester and at Arundel are progressed by inclusion in the region’s transport programme to 2018. Then we should look at every aspect of the Worthing problem and agree a compelling solution to be put forward by the public sector collectively and fully supported by the business community.

We must avoid squabbling between ourselves, as this has been the downfall of all previous efforts to resolve this problem.

At the same time we ought to try to work out how the train could take some of the strain.

The coastal service is good for short journeys but with so many stations progress is slow. What about some passing places to speed things up? And, with the number of trains on the line set to increase, waiting at the many level crossings could become interminable. One case I heard of suggested a level crossing was closed 25 minutes in a single hour – so having more trains could effectively close some main roads unless the technology can keep the gates open longer. Next, we should provide more parking at stations and try to get bus services to link. We also need a complete rethink on bus services to meet future needs – they need to be fast, reliable and not stuck in jams. The Crawley Fastway would be a good model. Lastly – and I know this isn’t always popular – but we do all have to use our cars less if we possibly can.

Improvements to the A27 and investment in public transport could bring success but only if there is an all-party effort to cut out unnecessary car journeys.

Should the Highways Agency make improvement work on the A27 a priority? Tell us your view below.

Comments (8)

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1:28pm Tue 26 Aug 08

wardth says...

"Improvements to the A27 and investment in public transport could bring success but only if there is an all-party effort to cut out unnecessary car journeys"

Why? Drivers have a RIGHT to drive their vehicle whenever and wherever on the public road system they choose because they pay for it. Road tax, tax on petrol etc etc. All this talk of restricting use of vehicles is short sighted and unnecessary. There are very few "unnecessary journeys" - most people don't just get in the car for the hell of it - they have somewhere to go and a reason to do so!!
The short sightedness of Brighton & Hove Bourough Council with regards to private vehicle access to Brighton has resulted in a drop in the number of visitors to the area - who wants to sit in a huge traffic jame to get here and then find there is nowhere to park! The pathetic Park and Ride scheme from Withdean is underused because people want to use their own cars to go about their daily business. Please get over this idea that people will stop using their own cars!!
"Improvements to the A27 and investment in public transport could bring success but only if there is an all-party effort to cut out unnecessary car journeys" Why? Drivers have a RIGHT to drive their vehicle whenever and wherever on the public road system they choose because they pay for it. Road tax, tax on petrol etc etc. All this talk of restricting use of vehicles is short sighted and unnecessary. There are very few "unnecessary journeys" - most people don't just get in the car for the hell of it - they have somewhere to go and a reason to do so!! The short sightedness of Brighton & Hove Bourough Council with regards to private vehicle access to Brighton has resulted in a drop in the number of visitors to the area - who wants to sit in a huge traffic jame to get here and then find there is nowhere to park! The pathetic Park and Ride scheme from Withdean is underused because people want to use their own cars to go about their daily business. Please get over this idea that people will stop using their own cars!! wardth
  • Score: 0

1:31pm Tue 26 Aug 08

wardth says...

...........and another thing!

Why not just put in a huge cycle path! Seems (not) to have worked everywhere else!

GGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!
!!!
...........and another thing! Why not just put in a huge cycle path! Seems (not) to have worked everywhere else! GGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! !!! wardth
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Tue 26 Aug 08

Made In Sussex says...

"First let’s make sure the improvements at Chichester and at Arundel are progressed by inclusion in the region’s transport programme to 2018. Then we should look at every aspect of the Worthing problem"

No!!! Arundel has had a bypass for years, Worthing gets pushed yet agian to the bottom of the pile !
"First let’s make sure the improvements at Chichester and at Arundel are progressed by inclusion in the region’s transport programme to 2018. Then we should look at every aspect of the Worthing problem" No!!! Arundel has had a bypass for years, Worthing gets pushed yet agian to the bottom of the pile ! Made In Sussex
  • Score: 0

2:41pm Tue 26 Aug 08

graham w says...

i blame MP terrance higgens back in NOV 1992 HE STOPPED, THE A27 WORTHING /LANCING IMPROVEMENT, HE STOOD IN THE WAY OF THEN THE, PUBLISHED PREFFERED ROUTE( THRO ROUTE WORTHING) CUT AND COVER TUNNEL. WHICH ACER THE CONSULTANTS HAD COMPLETED THE FINAL DETAIL, AND BETWEEN 90 AND 120 HOUSES HAD BEEN COMPULSRY PURCHASED.MR TERRANCE HIGGENS REMEMBER THATS THE MAN TO BLAME, HE HAD THE EAR OF THE THEN CURRENT PRIME MINISTER THTS WHYNO IMPROVEMENT HAPPENED THEN .. GRAHAM W LANCING...
i blame MP terrance higgens back in NOV 1992 HE STOPPED, THE A27 WORTHING /LANCING IMPROVEMENT, HE STOOD IN THE WAY OF THEN THE, PUBLISHED PREFFERED ROUTE( THRO ROUTE WORTHING) CUT AND COVER TUNNEL. WHICH ACER THE CONSULTANTS HAD COMPLETED THE FINAL DETAIL, AND BETWEEN 90 AND 120 HOUSES HAD BEEN COMPULSRY PURCHASED.MR TERRANCE HIGGENS REMEMBER THATS THE MAN TO BLAME, HE HAD THE EAR OF THE THEN CURRENT PRIME MINISTER THTS WHYNO IMPROVEMENT HAPPENED THEN .. GRAHAM W LANCING... graham w
  • Score: 0

2:49pm Tue 26 Aug 08

graham w says...

REMEMBER ...TERRANCE HIGGENS...1992 MP FOR WORTHING .. WHEN YOUR STUCK ON A27 ...HE STOPPED SCHEME IN 1992.. WORTHINGS OWN CONSEVATIVE MP... TERRANCE HIGGENS .. HE WAS A MINISTER IN THE TREASURY.. IT WOULD HAVE COST PEANUTS TO WHAT IT WILL COST NEXT TIME WE EVEN GET NEAR TO A BYPASS.. GRAHAM W .. LANCING
REMEMBER ...TERRANCE HIGGENS...1992 MP FOR WORTHING .. WHEN YOUR STUCK ON A27 ...HE STOPPED SCHEME IN 1992.. WORTHINGS OWN CONSEVATIVE MP... TERRANCE HIGGENS .. HE WAS A MINISTER IN THE TREASURY.. IT WOULD HAVE COST PEANUTS TO WHAT IT WILL COST NEXT TIME WE EVEN GET NEAR TO A BYPASS.. GRAHAM W .. LANCING graham w
  • Score: 0

5:19pm Tue 26 Aug 08

Scorpion says...

The A27 isnt the only road to have had half hearted attempts at reconstruction/impro
vements over the years. The country is littered with bridges that go nowhere (e.g.north end M23) cuttings that end in banks (A27 @ Arundel) roundabouts with exits that were never completed, motorways and dual carriageways that should have connected to something but didnt.

Its not all down the current eco-warriors who see this as concreting over England's green and pleasant land. (and they have a point). But successive governments have done nothing about it. The whole motorway system is London centric. Whereas most heavy goods travels from the ports to most parts of the country. Its nearly all forced to go via London with the result that the M25 is a nightmare.

Everyone talks the talk about public transport but wheres the action. If they cant even reinstate 6 miles of railway between Lewes and Uckfield when its easy, what hope is there?

A27 improvements - don't hold your breath. The tree protestors will have died of old-age before anything happens.
The A27 isnt the only road to have had half hearted attempts at reconstruction/impro vements over the years. The country is littered with bridges that go nowhere (e.g.north end M23) cuttings that end in banks (A27 @ Arundel) roundabouts with exits that were never completed, motorways and dual carriageways that should have connected to something but didnt. Its not all down the current eco-warriors who see this as concreting over England's green and pleasant land. (and they have a point). But successive governments have done nothing about it. The whole motorway system is London centric. Whereas most heavy goods travels from the ports to most parts of the country. Its nearly all forced to go via London with the result that the M25 is a nightmare. Everyone talks the talk about public transport but wheres the action. If they cant even reinstate 6 miles of railway between Lewes and Uckfield when its easy, what hope is there? A27 improvements - don't hold your breath. The tree protestors will have died of old-age before anything happens. Scorpion
  • Score: 0

1:20am Thu 28 Aug 08

St Tim of Sussex says...

Fastway a good model ?!
You don't know what you are saying!
We regularly sit in queues with Fastway busses.. they are not answer. They make the problem worse as they are too big for many of the routes ! They cause jams on corners and can't manouvre well. They have hit many lamposts and demolished a house in Crawley !!
They have some patches of guided kerb like a tram - but the cost of these was huge, the inconvenience whilst changing the roads lasted many years and much of it was built wrong so isn't used !!!
It went 8million pounds over budget too ! still like the idea ?
The answer is to lift people off the roads - elevated tramways running in a constant loop. electric powered (from sea, sun or wind I care not) with stations in estates so people don't use their cars at all - Brighton to Worthing or like spokes of a wheel with Chichester at the centre. It would lessen traffic on the A27, become a tourist feature too.. certainly speeding the journey and removing the stress of driving - people can even work on computers whilst on it!
Beware the Farceway !
Blessings,
St Tim
Fastway a good model ?! You don't know what you are saying! We regularly sit in queues with Fastway busses.. they are not answer. They make the problem worse as they are too big for many of the routes ! They cause jams on corners and can't manouvre well. They have hit many lamposts and demolished a house in Crawley !! They have some patches of guided kerb like a tram - but the cost of these was huge, the inconvenience whilst changing the roads lasted many years and much of it was built wrong so isn't used !!! It went 8million pounds over budget too ! still like the idea ? The answer is to lift people off the roads - elevated tramways running in a constant loop. electric powered (from sea, sun or wind I care not) with stations in estates so people don't use their cars at all - Brighton to Worthing or like spokes of a wheel with Chichester at the centre. It would lessen traffic on the A27, become a tourist feature too.. certainly speeding the journey and removing the stress of driving - people can even work on computers whilst on it! Beware the Farceway ! Blessings, St Tim St Tim of Sussex
  • Score: 0

4:12pm Sat 30 Aug 08

whatithink says...

'A stretch of the A27 between Brighton and Worthing could become as congested as the M25 by 2016....'

Who wrote this nonsense? It's worse than the M25 RIGHT NOW! I had to travel from Brighton to Fareham for a week recently, and it takes 2 hours to travel 50 miles! The M25 moves faster than that.
And that wasn't even in the rush hour. God knows how long it takes then.
We need to get it sorted right now - not in 8 years time. It won't need doing then, because nobody will be able to use the A27 at all as it will be totally gridlocked.
And yes, I do remember that half wit Terrance Higgens...
'A stretch of the A27 between Brighton and Worthing could become as congested as the M25 by 2016....' Who wrote this nonsense? It's worse than the M25 RIGHT NOW! I had to travel from Brighton to Fareham for a week recently, and it takes 2 hours to travel 50 miles! The M25 moves faster than that. And that wasn't even in the rush hour. God knows how long it takes then. We need to get it sorted right now - not in 8 years time. It won't need doing then, because nobody will be able to use the A27 at all as it will be totally gridlocked. And yes, I do remember that half wit Terrance Higgens... whatithink
  • Score: 0
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