Further Q&As on Access to Headington

We’ve just received some answers to further questions raised at last night’s Headington Ward Focus meeting from the project team. Here they are.

London Road

Is there enough space for a buggy on the crossing island?

Yes – the island will be 2m wide

Can there be CCTV enforcement to ensure drivers observe yellow boxes?

Down the line – possibly. The council is seeking powers to do this but is currently not able to do it. At present only TfL have been granted delegated powers to enforce yellow box infringements which are otherwise the preserve of the police.

 

Headley Way

People are concerned about tree felling in the nesting season

  • We’ll have a qualified ecologist checking every tree to be felled, if it has an active nest we can’t touch it until the nest has been proven vacated.
  • For absolutely clarity, the presence of a nest in itself is not enough to stop the felling of a tree.  Occupancy is the key (Ecologists are trained to tell signs if a nest is “active” and if they’re not sure the tree doesn’t come down until they are certain)
  • The project team will not cut corners on this – a blackbird’s nest has previously delayed completion of a major scheme for 4 months whilst we waited for the bird to leave
  • If we find that a significant number of trees are occupied then we’ll need to re-programme the works (either starting elsewhere/later but it’s entirely dependent on what we find)

Concerns about cyclists being “car doored”

  • We’ve included a buffer zone between parking and marked cycle lanes but even so both cyclists and motorists will have to be mindful (as with any cycle lane passing parking)
  • Those cyclists not wanting to use the road can still legitimately use the shared facility on the uphill section which would avoid this risk.

Safety concerns re drop off/pick up at St Joseph’s

This is an existing issue.  Any parking provision intended for use by parents might get abused by hospital goers so the situation would have to be led by the school (parent parking charters / walking buses / cycling initiatives)

Uncontrolled crossing at Osler Road junction – Q&As

Here are the answers by councillors to questions raised at yesterday evening’s Headington Ward Focus Meeting about the new crossing.

Osler Road uncontrolled crossing

Why is it needed?

High number of minor safety incidents

Why introduce it at such short notice?

Funding became available. It was considered best value to the taxpayers and provide least disturbance to residents during the Easter school holiday period

Why no consultation?

There were plans to put in a toucan crossing here from the outset, and many responses were received for this from the community, but it fell out of scope when money got tight. It went back in as priority once funding was available due to safety concerns

Who comes up with options for road crossings?

Amec Foster Wheeler provide alternative options and explain which ones are most feasible in their view in response to a spec from the County Council.

What spec was given?

A broad one. Controlled or uncontrolled crossings, either directly across the road or staggered.

Does the County Council have to go with the Amec recommendation?

No. This plan was subject to quite a lot of debate and challenges were made by the safety team in order to find the best option

Was money a factor in coming up with an uncontrolled, rather than a controlled, crossing?

Absolutely not. Safety concerns were prioritized. It wasn’t possible for a straight controlled crossing to be put in without a second set of lights, and the synching of these and delays to public transport made this prohibitive. A staggered crossing would result in further wait for pedestrians, and the size of the island would block movement into Osler Road

  • Original provision showed a toucan crossing incorporating the bus gate, after developing the design further it was determined that a controlled crossing could not be delivered safely.
  • Alternatives were considered, including a zebra, which had similar safety concerns.
  • The best alternative was to provide an uncontrolled crossing, incorporating a build out to shorten the crossing and providing a refuge in the middle of the road
  • There remains a broad local support for pedestrian provision in this location but bus companies are understandably concerned that the changes may affect the level of bus priority they receive with this latest proposal and the County is engaging with them to mitigate their concerns. There may be an additional delay of 28-40 seconds on the way into Headington from the City Centre but this is considered worthwhile because of the safety concerns at that location

Will the crossing be used by cyclists as well as pedestrians?

It is first and foremost a pedestrian crossing. It would technically be possible for cyclists to dismount, use the crossing and then resume cycling in the cycle lane opposite.

Who has been informed?

Letters to The Occupier at addresses in London Road between the garage and the controlled pedestrian crossing/lights have been sent by a distribution company.

Councillors are concerned about this as not all tenants in flats above shops may see the notification. We are also concerned that people in Osler Road, New High Street and Lime Walk have not been circulated, and we shall contact these residents ourselves.

Have the bus companies been informed?

Yes. See answer above

Will this affect community projects?

It will not affect the greening project, the Headington Market, or the trees with the Christmas lights

Will any trees have to be taken out?

No.

When will it happen?

It’s already started. Here is the approximate timetable, subject to weather conditions:

w/b 24 March             Footway works

w/b 3 April                  2-way lights (for 2 weeks). Works area will take up half the road

w/b 17 April                Narrow lane running (for 2 weeks)

Where will construction space be?

3 parking bays have been suspended in Lime Walk near KwikFit

Will there be works at weekends?

Yes on Saturday mornings.

For more information, please see the Access to Headington website

Your councillors called for the introduction of a safer pedestrian crossing at this point in the initial consultation, but were hoping that a controlled crossing option could be found. Traffic will be slow in the centre of Headington during April. We are concerned that there has been insufficient notice given to those affected although we understand the reasoning given, and we feel that residents in adjoining roads should have been leafleted. However we welcome much-needed safety improvements for pedestrians at such a busy location.

Latest on Access to Headington

We have just received this information from the County Council.

You will all no doubt be aware the Oxfordshire Growth Board announced the Year 1 growth project allocations yesterday and A2H received the full monies asked for. The announcement came a week earlier than we were expecting, it means that the Headley Way works will be continuing as originally scoped. 

I will update you with more information when I have it but the intention will be to start the Headley Way works after Easter, an Easter start would then have the programme running to Christmas 2018 (weather permitting). We will start at the Marsh Lane roundabouts as per our original programme but the programme at the JR access will be changed as we’ve managed to do some early works in advance that should reduce the disruption there.

As before, we will be undertaking a pre-construction exhibition at a location/time TBC.

The funding announcement also allows us to reintroduce elements of the work that were removed from scope including the pedestrian crossing on London Road at the Osler Road bus gate. A plan is attached showing the proposals for your information.  The proposals differ from the originals in the following way:

  • Original provision showed a toucan crossing incorporating the bus gate, after developing the design further it was determined that a controlled crossing could not be delivered safely.
  • Alternatives were considered, including a zebra, which had similar safety concerns.
  • The best alternative was to provide an uncontrolled crossing, incorporating a build out to shorten the crossing and providing a refuge in the middle of the road
  • There remains a broad local support for pedestrian provision in this location but bus companies are understandably concerned that the changes may affect the level of bus priority they receive with this latest proposal and we’re engaging with them to mitigate their concerns.

We will be looking to start the work as soon as possible, taking advantage of the Easter holidays if at all possible. It’s envisaged that the work would take 6-8 weeks given the site constraints.  We will be publicly advertising the attached shortly and will advise of the programme of works and TM phasing once approved by network management.

We are checking that works to trees can be done at this time, bearing in mind that this is the start of the nesting season.

Rationale for Access to Headington scheme

The following statement was sent today by one of the County Council transport planners in response to queries about the validity of the Access to Headington improvements. We display it here for the benefit of residents.

I can confirm that prior to government funding being awarded the project was subject to a full Department for Transport business case. This confirmed that the proposals would deliver significant benefits linked to reduced vehicle delay and an uptake in cycling as a result of junction improvements and new and improved cycle lanes and priority at junctions. This was reported in a paper that went to a Cabinet Member Decisions meeting in June 2016, when the scheme was also approved by the county council following an extensive period of consultation. The paper can be viewed via the following webpageI can confirm that prior to government funding being awarded the project was subject to a full Department for Transport business case. This confirmed that the proposals would deliver significant benefits linked to reduced vehicle delay and an uptake in cycling as a result of junction improvements and new and improved cycle lanes and priority at junctions. This was reported in a paper that went to a Cabinet Member Decisions meeting in June 2016, when the scheme was also approved by the county council following an extensive period of consultation. The paper can be viewed via the following webpage

The same paper also confirmed that alternative roundabout designs were considered early in the design process for the Marston Road/Headley Way/Marsh Lane junctions. However, detailed modelling confirms that these designs would still cause large queues and delay, whereas junction modelling of the proposed signalised arrangement estimates that total vehicle delay and queuing will be significantly reduced. As a result, more of the junction’s capacity can be given over to prioritising buses through selective vehicle detection, cycle safety can be improved with the introduction of cycle pre-signals, and additional controlled crossings for pedestrians and cyclists can be installed, without having a negative impact on general traffic. 

In terms of the bus-link at Northway then this was planned for local bus services only given the roads in Northway are narrow and the route to the JR Hospital less direct than the B4495, which also serves more destinations. Furthermore, the Access to Headington aligns with the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS), which proposes a series of projects that look to address citywide connectivity on Oxford’s orbital and radial routes, with proposed improvements on the B4495 delivering the first phase of infrastructure needed to achieve rapid transit and cycle networks as set out in the OTS. There have no changes to the OTS since Access to Headington was planned, design and consulted on which would require the scheme to be re-considered.  

 

Access to Headington – latest news from County Council

The County Council is still waiting for additional funding to be approved.

In the meantime they are still looking to get preparatory works completed to reduce the level of disruption when works start in earnest. With that in mind they want to continue some off-peak working on the islands outside the JR access on Headley Way.

They are aiming to turn their attention to the roundabout this time. Key points to note:

  • Working off-peak weekdays (Mon 12 Feb – Fri 16 Feb9:30 – 3:30.
  • This will take advantage of the reduced demand due to half term and mean they get the most difficult pieces done when fewer people are travelling.
  • Temporary lights will be on during the posted times
  • A temporary roundabout will be reinstated after works are completed.

The Slade

Significantly less work has been going on over the last few days. Overnight temperatures need to be higher in order that materials can properly cure and allow the line markings and anti-skid to last as long as possible.

Access to Headington latest

The Growth Board met yesterday in closed session. Although the Access to Headington project was not referred to on the agenda, it was discussed under an item with a different portfolio name.

We understand that individual projects are not likely to be announced till the 7th February. So the planned and published Staunton Road closure may still go ahead.

 

Latest information on Access to Headington phases in Headley Way and Windmill Road

We have gathered the following information  from discussions today with the County Cabinet Member and the project lead for A2H.

We understand that:

  • there is a shortfall regarding predicted cost of these phases and the cost quoted by Skanska
  • this means that the local Growth Board is being asked for more money at its next closed meeting on 1st February
  • it is possible that some of the elements of the Access to Headington scheme may have to be de-scoped (this means that they won’t be funded from the existing pot and will be dependent on funding from elsewhere if they happen at all).
  • at present, the Osler Road pedestrian crossing point has already been de-scoped but Skanska has been asked for a separate quote for this which is expected in March. We have asked for this to be included back in scope because we think it would be a major improvement for pedestrians, and had been hoping that it could be funded from money left over from the abandonment of other works near the ring road)
  • it appears that the 20 MPH limit for Windmill Road is separately funded so should go ahead, even if the alterations to Windmill Road are pared back or de-scoped
  • the County Council does not have to hold a statutory public consultation should any changes to the Access to Headington works be deemed necessary but the officer’s view is that there is a moral obligation for the County Council to consult residents once the options are agreed.
  • we asked for the A2H website to be updated, and this has now been done

 

We have informed the County Council that the condition of the JR roundabout is deteriorating and have asked this to be safety checked.

There is no correlation between any national media stories about Skanska and the quote for these works.

Press release re A2H delay

We have been sent the following press release from the County Council.

The start of the next phase of the Access to Headington transport improvement project has been postponed.

Work had been due to start on Headley Way on 22 January along the length of Headley Way including the junction works outside the John Radcliffe hospital and on the Marsh Lane junction.

However concerns over costs, utility diversions and technical issues relating to the hill section between Marsh Lane and the hospital, mean that the construction team have decided to put the start on hold. This means that the team are now looking at other sources of funding along with ways to reduce costs so that the improvement work goes ahead.

However the need for more certainty over costs, utility diversions and technical issues relating to the hill section between Marsh Lane and the hospital, mean that the construction team have decided to put the start on hold. This has also provided an opportunity to seek additional sources of funding to include improvements that had previously been unaffordable along with ways to reduce costs so that the improvement work goes ahead.

It is hoped that a new date for the work to start can be decided in the coming weeks.

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment and Economy, said: “We are still committed to delivering the scheme and some facilitating work will continue at weekends so that we are ready

“This is a challenging and much needed piece of work and it makes sense to look again at the costs and designs to ensure that it can be delivered on budget. We had hoped to resolve this without needing to pause the scheme but require more time to reach a conclusion.”

Work on The Slade is programmed to finish in February providing a new off-carriageway facility for cyclists as well as improved crossings. Once complete known issues such as parking obstructing the path will see enforcement action taking place.

The new junction on Gypsy Lane, completed early 2017, is working well and we will continue monitoring of that over the duration of the Access to Headington programme. The latest work undertaken on Old Road/Churchill Drive and Churchill Drive/Roosevelt Drive is now complete and working well providing improved access for the Churchill Hospital site.