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PROPOSED PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENT SCHEME SWAN STREET/STATION ROAD/ALDERLEY ROAD, WILMSLOW COMMITTEE : Macclesfield Local Joint Highways DATE : 1 April 2004 Report of : County Engineer Contact officer : Paul Hughes Telephone : 01244 603880 INTRODUCTION 1. The object of this scheme is to improve pedestrian facilities at the above junction, which has a poor pedestrian accident record and is used by over 200 pedestrians per hour at peak times and which is on an access route to Wilmslow High School. Discussions with pedestrian/access group representatives have identified particular concerns at this junction and a real desire to provide for specific movements. The scheme was reported to this Committee on 30 October 2003 (Item 12). It was noted that the proposals may impact on the three mature trees in the raised planter area to the south east of the junction. Subsequent to this Committee, a joint site meeting with Members and Officers was held on 15 January 2004 to discuss the arboricultural issues relating to these proposals. 2. This report sets out the details of the scheme, assesses its impacts and outlines the alternatives considered, seeking Committee approval to progress the scheme, noting that it will involve the removal of two mature trees. IMPROVEMENT SCHEME 3. The improvement provides, straight-forwardly, for pedestrian movements on the Swan Street, Station Road and Manchester Road arms. Facilities on the Alderley Road leg are less easily accommodated. A key element of the proposed junction improvement here is the provision of a 2m wide footway to the south east of the junction (Points A-B on attached plan). The routeing of this footway follows a pedestrian desire line linking into the Station Road and Alderley Road pedestrian crossings. It should be noted that four pedestrians have been injured at the junction, two of them seriously, during the previous three-year study period, although there has been no recorded personal injury accidents at the planter location. A detailed pedestrian count on 25 February 2004 showed that 25% of pedestrians chose to walk between points A and B on the 0.45m wide vehicular buffer strip at the front of the planter, as opposed to the existing footway to the rear of the planter. This has obvious safety implications especially as some pedestrians stray into the adjacent carriageway. 4. In order to construct the proposed footway, the natural stone wall that retains the raised planter will need to be relocated to a position approximately 1.5m behind its current location. Cheshire County Council’s Forestry and Arboricultural Officer produced a report that acknowledges that the provision of this footway, and relocation of the planter wall, will cause severe root damage to the root structure of two of the existing trees (1 and 2 on the attached plan), rendering them unstable. As the trees could not be retained in this condition, there would be no alternative other than to remove them. Tree 1 is a sycamore tree that is clearly under some stress and it could be expected to have a safe future life of approximately only 10 years and Tree 2 is a beech tree that is in good condition and could be expected to have a long future life. The report also recommends suitable replacement planting should any of the trees be removed - this report is attached as Appendix 1. 5. Following concerns about the loss of environmental amenity, Macclesfield Borough Council, the local planning authority, made all three trees in the planter area the subject of a Tree Preservation Order on 16 January 2004. If the scheme receives Committee approval the local planning authority will be approached with a view to obtaining permission to fell two of these trees and agreeing suitable replacement planting. SCHEME ALTERNATIVES 6. The sensitivity of the removal of any mature trees is clearly understood and the design process has considered identifying a layout that did not require such action : One such option is the removal of the left turn lane to provide of a footway to the front of the planter. The left turn lane was constructed approximately 20 years ago to permit the large volume of left turning traffic on the eastbound approach to the junction to proceed without unduly delaying straight ahead/right turning traffic. A recent survey indicated that 59% of eastbound traffic on Station Road turns left at the junction, hence, an uncontrolled dedicated left turn lane is still important to the traffic flow at the junction and its removal would have a significant impact on its capacity. Consideration was also given to upgrading the existing footway to the rear of the planter and providing measures to encourage its use (such a route would be a diversion from the main pedestrian ‘desire-line’). One such measure is to relocate the pedestrian crossing point on Alderley Road, so that it ties into the existing footway to the rear of the planter. This could prevent pedestrians from Station Road crossing Alderley Road from the triangular island, encouraging them to take a short-cut to make the crossing to the front of the central island on Alderley Road, avoiding the crossing point, which would be less safe for the pedestrians. A signal crossing could be introduced across the Station Road left turn to provide for this flow of pedestrians but would have an impact on the junction capacity resulting in extensive traffic queue lengths to the junction approaches. In addition to the above, the possibility of preventing pedestrians from using the vehicular buffer strip to the front of the planter was considered. For safety reasons, the provision of barrier rail or bollards within 0.45m of the edge of carriageway would not comply with current highway design best practice. It could result in vehicle/pedestrian accidents, with pedestrians potentially being caught on the carriageway-side of the barrier in a ‘live’ traffic lane. Another option could be the use of anti-pedestrian paving to the front of the planter. However this would be likely to encourage more pedestrians to use the adjacent carriageway and avoid the paving deterrent. SUMMARY 7. An improvement to pedestrian facilities at the Swan Street junction is desirable in safety and policy terms, as well as meeting local access group aspirations. A careful assessment of reasonable alternative options has been made, with none found to be suitable – either in not providing reasonable and safe pedestrian routes, or significantly impacting on congestion and queues/delays at the junction, as detailed above. The only viable approach for development of a safe scheme, is that set out in this report and it will require the removal of the trees identified. One of the trees identified for removal is recognised to have a limited life- span and provision has been made within the scheme to include landscaping work that would be agreed in discussion with the planning authority in addressing the implications of the established Tree Preservation Orders. RECOMMENDED : That the pedestrian improvement scheme set out, be approved and implemented as detailed in the report and attached plan, along with appropriate landscape treatments.
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