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An idiotic closure
9:18am Saturday 7th September 2013 in Wain's World
More years ago than I care to remember I filmed a Day by Day story at Southampton University on traffic congestion and the possible effects of proposed road-closures and traffic-calming measures.
The engineers used a tool which was brilliant in its simplicity – a three-dimensional city street model which could be blocked-off to test the effects of possible new one-way systems.
Someone had realised that rush-hour traffic flow could be simulated by water.
All they did was to close various streets, tilt the model slightly, add a precise volume of water to simulate a given amount of traffic and see what alternative routes became rat-runs.
No doubt today’s traffic-experts don’t use anything that elementary. Presumably there was some very sophisticated computer-modelling and simulation involved before English Heritage concluded that closing the A344 at its junction with the A303 “would not lead to a significant increase in vehicles using alternative routes.”
Well, we’ve now seen the results of that astonishing miscalculation: a 12-mile tailback on the A.303; jams in Amesbury, Shrewton, Durrington, Larkhill and Winterbourne Stoke; and HGV’s using the totally unsuitable route via Telegraph Hill at Bulford as a rat-run.
English Heritage has rightly concluded that the traffic congestion is due largely to the bottleneck caused by the A303 duel-carriageway becoming single carriageway near Stonehenge. And you don’t need to be Einstein to realise that the section passing the stones needs to be dualled.
So why didn’t English Heritage wait until then before closing the A344? It’s all very well quoting a commitment to UNESCO as an excuse, but this ill-considered scheme is causing chaos. Perhaps John Glen would like to share his thoughts with us?
* Talking of things that may not have been fully thought-through, has anyone else been wondering how our fancy new Chinese granite market-place is going to weather?
While not disputing for a second that the pristine blocks look very nice, you can’t help speculating about how what will happen when parked vehicles start leaking various liquids on to the stones (see my photo).
Will the stains soak in, be washed away by rain, or vanish under accumulated dirt or what? Just idle curiosity – we’ll find out soon enough.
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