Saturday, 25 June 2022

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No progress for crossing

No progress for crossing

The Parish Council have been continuing to press Hertfordshire County Council on a resolution for the crossing of London Road by Foxholes Farm entrance.  We have now received the following response from HCC.

While we appreciate that the London Road crossing point continues to be an issue for concern for local residents and HCC would very much like to see further improvements to the pedestrian route between Hertford Heath and Hertford, we are not planning to undertake any further design or investigation work at the moment. As I hope you will appreciate, we have already done a considerable amount of work improving the route as far as possible within the existing constraints and there are other projects across the county which would allow us to deliver more significant improvements to walking and cycling routes elsewhere and, like all public bodies, we have to prioritise what we do with the limited funding available to us.

There are a couple of potential options that could be explored further in the future if significant funding were to become available, but even those options have drawbacks or difficulties that would need to be overcome. I have outlined them below both so that you appreciate the investigation work that has been going on and to give an idea of the scope, scale and cost of any further potential improvements.

At the moment the most likely sources of sufficient additional funding would be some form of targeted grants from DfT (and HCC makes sure we bid for such funding as and when it is available) or a significant development in the area of Hertford Heath that might bring with it funding to allow the improvement of active travel (walking and cycling) routes in the area. I’d stress that we are not actively pursuing the project currently but that could change if suitable funding became available.

Based on the investigation work, the leading options and the costs (and difficulties that would still need to be overcome) with each are as follows:

Option 1

Refuge island (estimated cost £400k-£600k)

This proposal would see the construction of a 2m wide pedestrian island in the middle of the carriageway on London Road between the Foxholes and Jenningsbury Farm entrances where pedestrians currently have to cross the road.  By adding the refuge a pedestrian would be able to cross in two stages rather than having to cross both lanes of traffic in one go, making crossing the road there easier. This island could be constructed within the existing highway boundary (but see below). 

This option would not improve the narrow footways leading both ways along London Road, nor would it improve cycle facilities along the route.

There is existing BT equipment in the verge on one side of the road that would need to be diverted. Following preliminary discussions with BT their initial estimate for this work is £175,000 (which the project would have to fund).

In order to deliver this option within the current highway footprint, it would be necessary to remove the drainage ditch on the Jenningsbury Farm side of the road. This would require an alternative drainage solution to be designed and it is by no means certain that a viable alternative could be found that would meet Environment Agency approvals without acquiring additional land for drainage attenuation (which could substantially increase the cost still further).

As you may recall, the dip in the road at the crossing point used to flood regularly until we cleared and regraded the ditch as part of the improvement works that we delivered to the route a couple of years ago and we need to avoid a future recurrence of that situation. If an alternative drainage solution can’t be found then this option is not viable.

In any event, this option leaves the pedestrian crossing point in its current location, which is not optimal, and does nothing extra to improve cycle facilities along the route. It is therefore potentially a very expensive option that would deliver only limited benefits.

Option 2

Separate Facility with Segregated Cycle and Pedestrian Provision (approximate cost £500k to £750k for works plus cost of land and possible footbridge)

This proposal would see a completely new 5m wide pedestrian and cycle route constructed largely in fields to the north of London Road.  There would need to be a small bridge constructed to cross a stream close to the Foxholes entrance.  There would also need to be crossing facilities provided to enable people to connect with existing public footpaths or other desired routes.  This would likely mean a pedestrian refuge being provided near the entrance to Balls Park, and also a crossing of some kind provided near to the London Road/A414 roundabout, where the new facility would terminate.

This would require discussion with several landowners to secure land rights. There could also be concerns about personal security as the path would not being overlooked by any properties and would be screened from the road behind a hedge for the majority of the route as there is not enough land on the highway side of the hedge to improve the route although this screening effect would also separate users of the new path from road traffic for most of the route, which could be a further benefit.  For estimating purposes, the proposed construction has been assumed to be a standard asphalt footway/cycletrack, however, alternative construction types could be used if considered appropriate although this is unlikely to bring substantial savings.

This option would deliver a high quality walking and cycling route between Hertford Heath and Hertford that would be separate from motor traffic, continuous on one side of London Road and would only require users to cross it at suitable crossing points. However, it is even more expensive than Option 1 and most of it would be on new land that is not currently part of the highway corridor. This would require the landowners to sell or give the land to HCC or to enter into an arrangement to let us build a path over it that the public could use. There would be multiple landowners involved in such a project and, while initial conversations were had with a few of them some time ago, it is not something we would pursue actively unless/until the funding of the project becomes likely.

While I appreciate that this is not the answer for which you and your Council were hoping, I hope it demonstrates that we have put considerable time and effort into looking at possible options and that it is only with reluctance that we have decided that we cannot progress an improvement scheme here further under current circumstances.

Sue O'Hare
Parish Clerk

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