ONCE again, when the subject of improvements to the A27 around Chichester comes up for discussion that hoary old chestnut of a new bypass to the north of the city is put forward.
This would not be the answer to Chichester’s traffic problems for the following reasons:
The majority of the traffic on the bypass is not through traffic going from one side of Chichester to the other but instead the road serves as both a through route and (mainly) as a distributor for local movements.
During a public consultation on improvements to the A27 some ten years or more ago there was a revealing statistic (which many found hard to believe) that only one in five vehicles on the busiest section of the bypass was through traffic and the remainder had an origin or destination close to or in Chichester itself.
If this is hard to believe think of the significant residential areas that lie to the south of Chichester generating traffic that then has to join or cross the A27.
Traffic joins (and leaves) the bypass on several important roads from Bognor Regis, from Selsey, from The Witterings and from Fishbourne and other communities on the former A27.
Some drivers may be using the bypass to get into Chichester but many others will be using it to get to destinations further afield such as Portsmouth/Southampton or Worthing/Brighton.
None of this local traffic would use a northern bypass as it would entail an unacceptable diversion and so all of it would still be on the old road leaving perhaps 5,000 to 7,000 vehicles on the new road – only a partial solution and one which would be very expensive and disruptive.
There is no reason to suppose that the proportions of through and local traffic have changed much since the last public consultation – if anything the proportion of local traffic is likely to have increased with the scale of housing development that has taken place in that time.
The more effective solution (but one very unlikely to be given serious consideration) is a new bypass to the south of Chichester with grade separated junctions to allow it to be accessed by local traffic – again very expensive and disruptive. So why not go back to the previous proposals for flyovers at the busiest junctions and slip roads on and off at the other junctions?
The Highways Agency seem to be obsessed with only meeting the needs of through traffic but they have to accept that ‘their’ trunk road also serves as a distributor road used by thousands of local residents and future improvements need to take this into account.