Author Tony Whitbread
Sometimes it’s depressing to be shown to be right, but this is where I find myself with the A27. Months ago I pointed out that new roads simply add congestion and drive demand for yet more roads. And here we are with the A27 – current “improvements” have not even started yet government is planning to expand it further into a mini-motorway.
People often support new roads in the naive belief that they will cure congestion. The reverse is true – and plans for this mini-motorway are a clear admission of this. More roads, more congestion and so more roads. Then what? Maybe we can develop something about the size of the M25 because, as we know, there has never been a traffic jam on the M25!
In the process we suffer ongoing environmental loss – for example the Arundel bypass could cause the greatest loss of ancient woodland for a generation. As the cycle goes round more damage is done whilst no benefit is delivered.
Depressingly, we have been through this so many times before, re-learning the lessons roughly every 10 years. If you really want to address congestion then you have to address the cause, not just plaster over the symptoms. There is a clear, long-standing hierarchy of decision-making to an effective transport strategy. First, reduce the need to travel for example making use of modern technology (such as IT) so we can meet our needs without traveling. Second, most journeys are short so make far better use of walking and cycling. Third, shift as much travel as possible onto public transport.
Only as a last resort should increased infrastructure be considered and only a sub-set of that is a new road.
Irrational belief in failed solutions seems to be the fashion, however. I fear for the environment of Sussex.