Port Hill Traffic Lights Update

Port Hill Lights

Port Hill Lights

It looks as though work will begin on the Port Hill traffic lights this Summer. This work is part of a larger strategy to improve pedestrian access within Hertford, and further details can be found in the pdfs here and here.

There have been objections to the plan from some residents who live near to the proposed crossing, and County Councillor Andrew Stevenson has written a letter explaining the reasons why the location was chosen. You can read this letter below.

The scheme for the installation of the Port Hill pedestrian crossing is part
of a larger strategy to improve pedestrian access within Hertford, and
includes a pedestrian/cycling route around the Sainsbury’s site linking to
the town centre which has already been delivered (see attached plan for
reference). The scheme is being funded from S106 monies negotiated to
improve pedestrian facilities in mitigation for the transport impact of the
Sainsbury’s development. Traffic surveys undertaken pre and post
construction of the Sainsbury’s site show an increase in traffic volumes and
queuing on the B158 (Port Hill). Prior to our involvement on this scheme,
and subsequent consultation, local residents had campaigned to the County
Council for the installation of a safe crossing at this location to provide
improved access to local schools and nursery facilities.

The crossing proposals have been the subject of a detailed feasibility study
which investigated a large number of alternative crossing locations along
Port Hill and Cowbridge (B158). This included the feasibility of installing
a pedestrian route underneath the old Port Hill railway bridge and the
installation of a crossing point on the apex of the bridge. Each of the
alternative proposals was considered in detail and found to be unsuitable
due to various technical difficulties associated with the need to install
facilities which comply with Highways safety and design standards.

We therefore concluded that the current proposed location for the ‘Puffin’
crossing on Port Hill offers the best solution within the constraints
imposed by the highway alignment and surrounding buildings. The proposals
were the subject of a consultation exercise conducted in August 2014 which
was distributed to over 1,000 properties across the areas of west Hertford
and Bengeo which suffer a degree of severance from the town centre due to
the volume of traffic using the B158. The design incorporates various
measures designed to address issues raised during the consultation exercise
regarding sight-lines and traffic speeds. The concerns of the adjacent
residents in regard to possible light and noise pollution will be addressed
within the detailed design stage of the scheme. Methods which could be
employed involve the use of shrouds on the traffic signals and the removal
or reduction of the audible signal as necessary.

Concerns were also raised in regard to the reduction of available parking
spaces associated with the crossing installation and we feel that this is
the key reason why residents in the immediate vicinity raise objections to
the scheme. This has been estimated as equivalent to 7 car parking spaces.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the area is regularly used by workers from
local businesses, which has an obvious impact on the level of parking
available to the residents. Prior to the crossing proposals East Herts
District Council conducted two consultations on proposals for a residents’
parking permit scheme on Port Hill. We understand that on both occasions the
scheme was rejected.

While we recognise the effect of the proposals upon the availability of
parking in the immediate area, we consider that the proposed crossing
installation will provide greater value to a far larger section of the
community in terms of the safety and accessibility benefits afforded. The
Consultation was distributed to over 1000 properties, and 136 responses were
recorded with 110 in support and 19 against. A decision has therefore been
made to proceed with the crossing and formal orders have now been published.
We anticipate that the construction would be scheduled to take advantage of
this year’s school summer holidays. We feel that the proposed solution
strikes the right balance in achieving the County Council’s aims to improve
sustainable travel whilst taking on-board a wide array of views, both
in-house technical views and those of the residents which includes likely
users of the facility from a wider area as well as residents in the
immediate vicinity.

Some preliminary engineering work is being done to ascertain where
underground essential services lie that might interfere with the work.
The main civil engineering work is planned for the school holidays.

On balance I feel that investment in improved walking routes that improve
safety in crossing the B158 and help slow down traffic is a positive step
for the majority of Bengeo residents although I accept the location may not
be welcome by those who live immediately adjacent to the crossing. However
the current situation is increasingly dangerous for people trying to cross
into Hartham from the half of the other side of the B158 ­especially for
mothers with small children, elderly people ­or indeed anyone as the
traffic speeds there seem to increase year by year.