Heathrow keeps door open on u-turn on new road that would divide Colnbrook

Heathrow has left the door open to a rethink on its plans to reroute the Colnbrook By-pass through Albany Park.

Heathrow road changes 4

Significant in the ‘refreshed master plan’ compared to it’s earlier submission was that the A4 would no longer be tunnelled under the airfield … on cost grounds. Instead, a new roundabout at the Imperial Coaches site (the old Johal Scrapyard) will see it diverted both northbound around the third runway, and southbound through Albany Park and onto Park Street.

“Where our previous scheme showed the alignment of the A4 largely retained and placed in a short tunnel beneath the taxiway crossings, this solution is no longer practical with the runway moved further south”.

In addition to a major new roundabout on the by-pass there would be a new mini-roundabout at the junction of Albany and Park Street and the Punchbowl would find itself on another large roundabout on the junction with Poyle Road intended to take the extra traffic down Poyle Road to the motorway.

Heathrow's plan for the local road network (click to enlarge)

Heathrow’s plan for the local road network (click to enlarge)

For the northbound diversion Heathrow has taken steps to avoid local villages, but the new route will be a dual carriageway with existing bus priority measures.  It is also making provision for a bypass to the north and east of Sipson to limit the effects of road traffic emissions.

It gives less detail on the southern diversion but makes clear there will be no loss of capacity.  Mischievously, Heathrow says this diversion will avoid traffic from the disrupted A4 being re-routed through “less appropriate local routes”.

The irony is that the by-pass, built in 1929 to divert through traffic away from the village, will now be routed through the village.  Heathrow’s intention is to avoid any loss of capacity to the road network and “minimise severance”.

The key principle for the development of the local road network has been to retain existing connectivity. We seek to avoid cutting off roads and to expand carrying capacity if possible

Even the Parish Council has acknowledged that traffic is going to be a major issue if the airport gets its way.  Cllr Hood last month told the Slough Express his bigger concern was not noise but freight.

“I’m more concerned about the traffic issue. Planes are one thing but the amount of freight travelling along the roads will double if the third runway is built … This area will be blighted, overun by lorries and vans.”

That freight might be an issue doesn’t take a degree in Transport Management to work out. Channelling a major by-pass through the village would fundamentally divide Colnbrook and Poyle, raise safety fears, and change the character of some of the quieter streets. Poyle would become an island bounded by the airport, dual carriageway and motorway.  No wonder a 5m high bund is proposed to shield residential properties from the worst of the noise.

by-pass

Residents in Mill Street, Albany Park, Laurel Close, Aintree Close, Tall Trees and Heathacre would be the worst affected but the road scheme would mean the loss of the ‘access only’ for Colnbrook.  While the scheme could reduce traffic on the High Street, Heathrow has failed to provide mitigation measures to prevent a legitimate “rat run” through the village between the motorways.

The alternative of tunnelling the A4 below the airport, while more costly and potentially less attractive, is still possible in engineering terms.

Heathrow has dangled the possibility that the route could still be changed, and is clear the driver is cost alone:

“The exact route would need to be the subject of detailed future consultation and further traffic analysis. The current route shown is therefore indicative, but in principle we have sought to provide a like-for-like replacement, ensuring that through-traffic would not make use of local roads. The alternative of tunnelling the A4 below the airport, while more costly and potentially less attractive, is still possible in engineering terms.”

Regardless, it says further work will be required as proposals develop to assess the impact on the local road network and identify suitable improvements with local authorities and TfL.  Detailed junction capacity assessments have yet to be carried out.

Residents seem to be wakening up to the impact of the Third Runway on the village if comments on our Facebook page are anything to go by.  Chris Denyer summed the changes up in one word: “frightening”. Others, such as Raymond Montague suggested  it is time to stop talking and start building:

Instead of talking about it why don’t they just get in and build it it’s gonna happen anyway we can’t stop it it’s called progress people will soon be moaning of lack of jobs if it don’t happen

For or against a Colnbrook runway, however, getting Heathrow to rethink its plans for diverting the by-pass through the village is likely to galvanise opinion.

 

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