Tags Highway View

One of the main concerns of the group of the Thornton residents who formed Thornton Action Group was the impact of increased traffic from the large scale housing developments in progress and being planned in 2001.

Since 2001 approval of further developments on a scale unimagined at that time has taken place, all of which add significantly to traffic congestion. In parallel with this has been the rapid decline in the quality of the highway surfaces.

Why are we concerned? Transport links, and in the case of Thornton this means the roads that form the local and strategic highway network, are the economic equivalent of the circulatory system in the human body. If it doesn’t operate effectively, nothing else can. Without an efficient highway network the opportunities to attract investment and create good jobs locally for residents are limited. An overloaded and poorly maintained network is hazardous to residents.

What concerns us? Increasing congestion, largely due to increased commuting by car as there is no viable alternative for most working people, deters investment by businesses in the area. Damage to road surfaces on the local network by heavy vehicles using Thornton as a short cut. Defects in road surfaces due to inadequate maintenance and defective reinstatement of utility excavations. Safety hazards for road users and pedestrians.   

What needs to be done? The highway network is the responsibility of two organisations; The A585(T) is a trunk road and a “non-core” part of the nation’s Strategic Highway Network (SRN), operated and maintained by the Highways Agency (HA). All other public highways are the Local Highway Network (LHN) which is the responsibility of Lancashire County Council (LCC).

Our principal concern with the former is the lack of capacity on the A585(T) particularly it’s junctions which cause congestion both on itself and on the adjoining local roads, and our concerns with the latter are over the inadequate management and lack of proper maintenance. 

A585 Capacity: Within a decade of the A585 as we now know it being constructed, its limitations led to planning for what became the proposed Fylde Coast Easterly Bypass, known as the Red Route, to provide a second link from Norcross to the M55, it was never built. A good historical background on the A585, and indeed all of Lancashire’s highways, can be found at  http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/environment/historichighways/index.asp
In 2002 The Wyre Borough Council Economic Committee said that they believed top priority should be given to improvements on the A585 road which links Fleetwood with the M55 motorway at Greenhalgh.
In more recent times a new route from the southern end of Amounderness Way to the M55 has been promoted by local politicians as the panacea. Our enquiries in 2009 met with the comment that it was not a regional priority and no funding would be available for it up to 2019. From initial funding to opening a highway scheme of this kind can take at least a decade and usually very much longer. 
The Planning Inspector’s Report APP/U2370/V/02/1086527 after a Public Inquiry, which recommended refusal of a large housing development in Thornton contained the following observations in 2002:

The HA studies throughout 2003 lead to a Route Management Strategy Report in 2004 which recommended the following Route Outcomes to be achieved within a ten year strategy:

To January 2011 not one of these outcomes has been achieved.

The latest version of the HA A585 Route Management Plan can be viewed here.

Our view is that the projected new route, even if it is ever built, will be too late to prevent significant economic and social damage to the the area’s residents, and so all the route outcomes referred to above should be given top priority for funding and be completed in advance of any further housing development.

What has been achieved is the approval by Wyre Borough Council of a the Fleetwood–Thornton Area Action Plan which approves in outline the building of large scale housing developments in North Thornton and Fleetwood. The increase in traffic from these developments is very significant, anticipated by the Council to add more than 40% to the traffic at some junctions, see Table 4.2 on page 6 of the Sustainable Transport Strategy at
http://www.wyrebc.gov.uk/Page.aspx?PvnID=73564&PgeID=67190&ClgPN=Stage+5%3a+Adoption&ClgPV=73558&ClgPg=67184&BrdCb=1-24-13552-13554-13592-46714-46762-67184 . We all know how frustrating congestion at the A585 junctions is now, we can only wonder what the future delays will be at peak times and how this will affect the the economy of the area and how much it will cost us all.


Local Highway Network: The local roads in and around Thornton are, for the most part, in a very poor state of repair. The primary reasons are damage by heavy traffic and substandard reinstatement of highway openings coupled with a totally inadequate maintenance budget.

Heavy vehicles have a damaging effect on the highway fabric far greater than lighter vehicles. The design life of a carriageway is based on a limiting capacity expressed as millions of standard axles (msa), a standard axle exerts a load (Ps) on the carriageway of 80kN. (Approximately 8 tonnes). The damaging effect (E) on the carriageway is normally expressed in relation to a standard axle, and the accepted formula is known as The 4th Power Rule: - E = (P/Ps)3.95 where P is the load exerted by the axle being considered. For more information see http://www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/dmrb/vol7/section2/hd2406.pdf
To put this damage into the real world, a fully loaded 8 wheel tipper of the type used to deliver aggregates and remove soil from construction sites typically will gross around 32 tonnes on 4 axles. A typical car will gross around 1.5 tonnes on 2 axles. By applying the 4th Power Rule it can be seen that a single standard axle has a damaging effect on the carriageway in excess of 10,000 times that of a typical car axle.

Road are categorised as follows:
Type 0 with a limiting capacity of 30 to 125 msa,
Type 1 with a limiting capacity of 10 to 30 msa,
Type 2 with a limiting capacity of 2.5 to 10 msa,
Type 3 with a limiting capacity of 0.5 to 2.5 msa,
Type 4 with a limiting capacity of up to 0.5 msa.

Type 3 and 4 make up the vast majority of the LHN in Thornton, being minor residential and spine roads carrying estate traffic and infrequent local bus services. It is unlikely that any of the other routes have been constructed to the modern Type 2 standard.

With peak traffic on Fleetwood Road projected to rise to 3,300 vehicles per hour and a LCC view that HGV traffic needs to rise to 5% before they will act to reroute such traffic, the capacity is clearly limited.  

Our view is that all HGV through traffic, i.e. that not accessing premises in Thornton, should be banned from the streets of Thornton and required to use the A585, which will decrease safety risk and nuisance as well reducing damage to the fabric of the local network.

The poor condition of many of Thornton’s highways is due to poor quality and failing reinstatement by various companies who are permitted to install pipes, cables, ducting and other equipment in the carriageway and footways. Such companies are generally referred to collectively as “utilities”, some are utilities, others are not, but for simplicity the generic term will be used here. The standard of reinstatement required is set out in nationally recognised guidelines, often known as the HAUC Specification, the Second Edition issued in 2002 can be found at    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/network/local/streetworks/cop/roo/prefacetoappendix29.pdf Reading this document it is clear that many reinstatements locally have not been carried out to the required standard, and nor have the utilities concerned  been required to correct defects by the end of the Guarantee Period, which is usually two years, but three years in the case of deep openings.

Our view is that the Highway Authority, LCC, should be more active in compelling utilities to comply with their obligations, otherwise they are saddled with the costs in the longer term, which has to be found from our taxes.

Inadequate maintenance of the local network is evident for all to see. The 2010/11 LCC allocation for Wyre is shown as “676km of roads maintained £2.038 million”, just over £3,000 per kilometre, which probably equates to less than 50 pence per year to maintain each square metre of highway. When the cost of road sweeping, gully emptying, filling potholes, winter services such as gritting and highway and traffic management costs are taken out what little is left for renewing surfaces has to be prioritised, and that usually means by importance of the route, so A roads will get priority over B, C and Unclassified roads. There are no LCC controlled A roads in Thornton.      

Our view is that the Highway Authority and Local Planners should be more active in  compelling through traffic to use the A585, and to give more careful consideration to the routes heavy vehicles are permitted to use when they are required to use the local network. In addition, the quality of pothole repairs should be more rigorously controlled. This type of patch repair evident in our gallery surely cannot be value for money. (Link to photo gallery, which is coming soon )  

Useful Links:

The Highway Act 1980 - http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/legResults.aspx?LegType=All+Legislation&title=+Highways+Act+1980&searchEnacted=0&extentMatchOnly=0&confersPower=0&blanketAmendment=0&TYPE=QS&NavFrom=0&activeTextDocId=2198137&PageNumber=1&SortAlpha=0

New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/22/contents

Department for Transport Roads - http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/introtoroads/

The Highways Agency – http://www.highways.gov.uk/

Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee - http://www.hauc-uk.org.uk/

Roads UK - http://www.roadsuk.com/

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