I write regarding High Street Improvements Scheme – Traffic Lights option.
A number of residents and others have questioned why the scheme does not include traffic lights as part of the improvements to make the High Street a safer place.
This is understandable because, to many people, it seemed an obvious solution and the Parish Council originally asked our specialist highway engineers to investigate the possibility.
Unfortunately, there are two main practical reasons why traffic lights would not work. Firstly, there are a number of side turnings along the length of the road, and vehicles turning out of these could be facing oncoming traffic, moving on a ‘green’ light. In some cases they might not be able to see the oncoming traffic until they had committed their turn. Secondly, there is a tendency of some drivers to accelerate hard once they see their ‘green light, resulting in faster speeds on the clear section of road.
Some people have pointed out that recent temporary traffic lights (to enable roadworks in the High Street) have worked well. Opinions differ on these recent experiences, but in any event the regulations around providing temporary lights are much less rigorous than for a permanent installation.
In planning this scheme the Parish Council has been working with the County Council, consulted regularly with local people including the High Street traders, and undertook a comprehensive public exhibition over two years ago. The results of a detailed survey on the proposals in late 2012 gave strong support to the Scheme. We have employed specialist highway engineers to explore all the options, carried out surveys and undertaken three stages of safety checks.
The Parish Council is aware that parking around the High Street and side roads is a concern and, although this scheme provides a few additional spaces, it is not its primary purpose and further work needs to be done in the future to address parking issues in the village. We will be communicating with residents and others during the construction phase in August, and make every effort to minimise the impact of the work.
Any solution will always be a compromise and problems will still occur with congestion, because we are trying to fit 21st century traffic into an 18th century High Street, but we are trying to create a place that is safer and more workable for both drivers and pedestrians.
Stephen Hoyles (clerk)
on behalf of Hurstpierpoint& Sayers Common Parish Council
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