Roads shake-up to tackle city's pollution

BUSY ROAD: Traffic crosses Milburngate Bridge, Durham

BUSY ROAD: Traffic crosses Milburngate Bridge, Durham

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

COUNCIL chiefs have announced a multi-million pound roads shake-up aimed at tackling a city’s growing air pollution problem.

Durham County Council traffic bosses want to install ‘smart’ traffic lights on the Leazes Bowl and Gilesgate roundabouts to cut rush hour congestion and fumes on the A690 through Durham City.

The so-called Scoot system, which would cost around £2.5m, would monitor traffic levels and flow and change signals to ease polluting logjams.

The cash has been agreed from the council’s budget, but consultation must take place before a timetable can be agreed and works begin.

Dave Wafer, the council’s strategic traffic manager, said Scoot would not solve Durham’s air quality issues overnight but it would help.

Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes welcomed the move but said the council was moving far too slowly to tackle the city’s ‘serious’ pollution problem.

He accused the authority of having done nothing since an area of Durham including 332 properties was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in April 2011, amid concerns over rising levels of nitrogen dioxide – a pollutant derived from vehicle exhausts.

Since 2011, Durham’s AQMA has had to be extended to parts of Neville’s Cross and Elvet and a second AQMA declared in Chester-le-Street, covering Menceforth Cottages, Glen Terrace and Pelton Fell Terrace.

Also, a deadline for drawing up an Air Quality Action Plan had to be extended from December 2013 to March 2015.

However, council chiefs say they have been using the time to produce a plan that will make a real impact, rather than picking easy options.

They also stress the public should not be worried about the pollution levels.

Traffic chiefs blame Durham’s air problems on decisions taken in the 1960s and 1970s to send all traffic through Durham City, across Milburngate Bridge, rather than build a bypass; increasing car usage; and increasing use of diesel engines, which produce more nitrous oxides than petrol engines.

Around 40,000 vehicles cross Milburngate Bridge every day, two-thirds of which are just passing through rather than visiting Durham.

In the longer term, the council wants to build western and northern relief roads for the city, linking the B6302 near Stonebridge to the A691 at Sniperley and Rotary Way, near Newton Hall, to the A690 east of the Belmont exit, respectively, in the hope of cutting congestion in the city centre.

Comments (9)

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8:03am Fri 22 Aug 14

DrPhilanges says...

This plan & the relief roads aren't sufficient for the expected growth of motor traffic over the next few years. Durham will grind to a halt.

The Council need to get with the programme and stop wasting money on cycle paths and public transport that no one will use and extend the Western Relief Road south to the **** o' the North and then on to link up with the A177 by Shincliffe.

Only a massive programme of road building and widening will prevent car-mageddon.
This plan & the relief roads aren't sufficient for the expected growth of motor traffic over the next few years. Durham will grind to a halt. The Council need to get with the programme and stop wasting money on cycle paths and public transport that no one will use and extend the Western Relief Road south to the **** o' the North and then on to link up with the A177 by Shincliffe. Only a massive programme of road building and widening will prevent car-mageddon. DrPhilanges
  • Score: 10

10:16am Fri 22 Aug 14

gazza_d says...

You are being ironic of course???

The only thing that will cut congestion and pollution is a reduction in traffic and road space, which means fewer cars. More roads will create more traffic. Proven around the world. Search for "Induced demand"

More alternative means such as quality linked up tracks for cycles. Durham city is rubbish frankly. More buses, and increasing the cost of private car use though fuel tax, which has been seriously reduced in real terms by this Govt, while public transport fares have been hiked & almost doubled in some cases.
You are being ironic of course??? The only thing that will cut congestion and pollution is a reduction in traffic and road space, which means fewer cars. More roads will create more traffic. Proven around the world. Search for "Induced demand" More alternative means such as quality linked up tracks for cycles. Durham city is rubbish frankly. More buses, and increasing the cost of private car use though fuel tax, which has been seriously reduced in real terms by this Govt, while public transport fares have been hiked & almost doubled in some cases. gazza_d
  • Score: -11

1:15pm Fri 22 Aug 14

sensible says...

"Around 40,000 vehicles cross Milburngate Bridge every day, two-thirds of which are just passing through rather than visiting Durham. "

So the obvious answer is the by-passes that are actually being considered. That would see traffic cut to just a third of what it is now! (If you believe the Councils numbers!) Get rid of 2/3 of the cars - problem solved!
"Around 40,000 vehicles cross Milburngate Bridge every day, two-thirds of which are just passing through rather than visiting Durham. " So the obvious answer is the by-passes that are actually being considered. That would see traffic cut to just a third of what it is now! (If you believe the Councils numbers!) Get rid of 2/3 of the cars - problem solved! sensible
  • Score: 7

3:52pm Fri 22 Aug 14

john davidson rr says...

Public transport is never going to work - too expensive and never goes where you want it too. Cycle routes are pointless, too dangerous and the lifestyle of the average UK population don't consider this as a viable alternative.
Like it or not the car is here to stay - Durham is not worth visiting for shops - tourists only for Cathedral etc - I would say that more than 2/3rds of traffic is passing through. Bypasses, although expensive are the only solution, fuel goes up, tax goes up, insurance goes up - does it stop us driving - NO - it is now fixed in our genes to drive - we save money elsewhere to keep us in our cars. THIS WILL NOT CHANGE.
Public transport is never going to work - too expensive and never goes where you want it too. Cycle routes are pointless, too dangerous and the lifestyle of the average UK population don't consider this as a viable alternative. Like it or not the car is here to stay - Durham is not worth visiting for shops - tourists only for Cathedral etc - I would say that more than 2/3rds of traffic is passing through. Bypasses, although expensive are the only solution, fuel goes up, tax goes up, insurance goes up - does it stop us driving - NO - it is now fixed in our genes to drive - we save money elsewhere to keep us in our cars. THIS WILL NOT CHANGE. john davidson rr
  • Score: 5

4:42pm Fri 22 Aug 14

savemountoswald2 says...

So, we need to do something to combat the traffic pollution caused by the traffic now? So the answer according to our beloved planners is to build another 3,000 homes in Durham City and expand the student population by another 2,500. The next answer, having made the problems even worse, is to build a bypass or two!! If these are needed now, how will they cope with the additional houses? Will we need to bypass the bypasses in 20 years time?
Did anyone know that these AQMA's existed?
This is simply another "box ticking" exercise so they can try to show the government they need extra money to build the bypasses!!
So, we need to do something to combat the traffic pollution caused by the traffic now? So the answer according to our beloved planners is to build another 3,000 homes in Durham City and expand the student population by another 2,500. The next answer, having made the problems even worse, is to build a bypass or two!! If these are needed now, how will they cope with the additional houses? Will we need to bypass the bypasses in 20 years time? Did anyone know that these AQMA's existed? This is simply another "box ticking" exercise so they can try to show the government they need extra money to build the bypasses!! savemountoswald2
  • Score: 11

5:34pm Fri 22 Aug 14

durhamchap says...

The bypass roads should have been built years ago but if they are built I hope the traffic lanes are for ALL road users with none of the idiotic bus lanes that cause far more congestion. I regularly travel into Durham from Brandon and have seen most of the buses ignoring the bus lane near the Stonebridge because they then have to get into the car lane to negotiate the roundabout.
The bypass roads should have been built years ago but if they are built I hope the traffic lanes are for ALL road users with none of the idiotic bus lanes that cause far more congestion. I regularly travel into Durham from Brandon and have seen most of the buses ignoring the bus lane near the Stonebridge because they then have to get into the car lane to negotiate the roundabout. durhamchap
  • Score: 8

4:38pm Sat 23 Aug 14

David Lacey says...

WE don't want any new roads. The proposed bypasses will merely shift the problem a few miles up the road, turning the Arnison and Pity Me areas into gridlocked no go zones. I attended the public consultation events and there was massive resistance to the idea.
WE don't want any new roads. The proposed bypasses will merely shift the problem a few miles up the road, turning the Arnison and Pity Me areas into gridlocked no go zones. I attended the public consultation events and there was massive resistance to the idea. David Lacey
  • Score: -8

12:21pm Mon 25 Aug 14

Nettynoir says...

Walk down North Rd , past the line of taxis, most of which are diesel engined, and you will find many have their engines running while parked.
Couple this with the constant flow of buses that are held up at the pedestrian xing and you have a heavily poluted street used by almost all of the City's pedestrians. Surely this is an area that needs the pollution problem solving.
unionjack
Walk down North Rd , past the line of taxis, most of which are diesel engined, and you will find many have their engines running while parked. Couple this with the constant flow of buses that are held up at the pedestrian xing and you have a heavily poluted street used by almost all of the City's pedestrians. Surely this is an area that needs the pollution problem solving. unionjack Nettynoir
  • Score: 3

11:52am Tue 26 Aug 14

indynero says...

Congestion in Durham is partly due to the fact there are so many bottle necks, for example A691 Framwellgate Peth, under the East Coast Main Line, A690 Leazes Road, between Gilesgate and Elvet Roundabouts, A167 Pity Me Bypass plus A167 Newcastle and Darlington Road, which could be very easy made in to a dual carriageway, though the signals at the Toll House Road junction, don't help and need to give traffic heading south and turning right priority. I would agree with one of the comments already, that the Western Relief Road, needs to be extended to at least the A167, even the A177 in the long term, which would tie in the proposed Bowburn Western Relief Road. As for the Northern Relief Road, this should be already built, together with the link road from the Witton Gilbert Bypass, diverting the A691 away from the City Centre. Why build a new bridge, when one already crosses the river and has done since 1851, the Brasside / Belmont Viaduct. Add the road deck on top, like has already been done in Bishop Aukland, on a viaduct of a similar age, in fact both on the original main line. But why improve the bottle necks? Build the relief roads, that should in effect circle the city centre, improve the signage, make the junctions smart, encourage the driver to use the ring road, rather then cut through the city, not be congestion charging, but by removing the 1960's and 1970's mess, narrow the roads, make Durham City pedestrian and cycle friendly, extend and build more park and rides, make Durham what it once was.
Congestion in Durham is partly due to the fact there are so many bottle necks, for example A691 Framwellgate Peth, under the East Coast Main Line, A690 Leazes Road, between Gilesgate and Elvet Roundabouts, A167 Pity Me Bypass plus A167 Newcastle and Darlington Road, which could be very easy made in to a dual carriageway, though the signals at the Toll House Road junction, don't help and need to give traffic heading south and turning right priority. I would agree with one of the comments already, that the Western Relief Road, needs to be extended to at least the A167, even the A177 in the long term, which would tie in the proposed Bowburn Western Relief Road. As for the Northern Relief Road, this should be already built, together with the link road from the Witton Gilbert Bypass, diverting the A691 away from the City Centre. Why build a new bridge, when one already crosses the river and has done since 1851, the Brasside / Belmont Viaduct. Add the road deck on top, like has already been done in Bishop Aukland, on a viaduct of a similar age, in fact both on the original main line. But why improve the bottle necks? Build the relief roads, that should in effect circle the city centre, improve the signage, make the junctions smart, encourage the driver to use the ring road, rather then cut through the city, not be congestion charging, but by removing the 1960's and 1970's mess, narrow the roads, make Durham City pedestrian and cycle friendly, extend and build more park and rides, make Durham what it once was. indynero
  • Score: 3
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