THE ongoing traffic chaos caused by the opening of the swing bridges has seen more than 400 people sign the Warrington Guardian’s online petition.
Public concern has mounted over the increasing frequency of the opening of the bridges at Latchford, Stockton Heath and Walton, which triggers gridlock in the town.
Motorists and residents have called for action from both Peel Ports and Warrington Borough Council.
The Warrington Guardian has listed its top ten solutions to help alleviate the traffic nightmare, which ensues the opening of the bridges.
What do you think of the solutions? Do you have a better alternative? We want to hear from you.
1. Reduce the opening of the swing bridges between the hours of 7.30am to 9am and 4.30pm to 6.30pm. Warrington Borough Council is currently in talks with Peel Ports to sign a memorandum of understanding, which would limit the number of sailings in peak periods to 100 a year or below. So far, Peel Ports have refused to do this.
2. Provide advanced warnings of planned shipping movements. An early warning system is expected to be launched in partnership with Peel Ports and Warrington Borough Council later this year, which will enable council officials to notify motorists via a website about the openings of the swing bridges.
It is anticipated that they will be able to give a warning 35 minutes prior to an opening as well as what direction the boats are travelling in.
3. Once the early warning system is launched, social networking sites could be set up to keep motorists up to date on the current status of the bridges. A text messaging service could also be organised where motorists could subscribe to updates at certain times of the day.
4. Modernise the bridge so that it swings faster. This will alleviate the traffic chaos caused by the bridge openings by shortening the times when road traffic is halted.
5. Signs to be displayed at various locations along the roads leading up to the swing bridges, giving motorists information on the status of the bridges and what direction the boats are travelling in.
6. Repeal the 1885 Act of Parliament, which gives Peel Ports the power to open the bridges as its discretion. This would be a costly and lengthy process for the council.
7. High level bridges could be built. This solution is favoured by David Mowat Warrington South MP, who called it the ‘least worst option’ but, with the amount of development that has taken place along the canal, suitable locations are limited.
8. Group boats travelling down the canal together so that the bridges swing less frequently but for a longer period of time during the night.
9. Only allow lower level boats to travel down the canal during rush hour to avoid unnecessary swings.
10. Restrict the time that the bridges can be opened for and order Peel Ports to pay fines if they continue to flout this. This would be difficult to impose due to the 1885 Act of Parliament.