Traffic expert would 'not be surprised' to see city gridlocked again this month

This post first appeared on Nottingham Post. Read the original article.

A traffic expert says he would 'not be surprised' to see traffic brought to a standstill in tailback traffic for a second time this month.

Traffic was brought to a standstill in and out of the city on Wednesday (October 6) after University Boulevard was closed from 2.30pm until 11pm because a tram derailed following a collision with a van.

Four people were injured, none of them seriously, NET said.

Nottingham City Council said has described it as a "very unusual major incident that would put a strain on any city road network at rush hour".

But Dr John Disney, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University and a ransport researcher, said this time of the year the traffic is "always busy" as "you have people coming into shop as well as those going out".

He said: "I was caught up in yesterday's chaos. A 10 mile each way bus journey to work took 87 minutes in the morning and 113 minutes back," he said.

"Some cities have moved away from having one shopping night. But Nottingham still seems to push Wednesday nights. They seem to put events on to try and get people in on Wednesday nights.

Emergency services at the scene

Emergency services at the scene

"Traffic congestion is always worse in December as this is a month of full employment - with less leave taken and more overtime and temporary work available - coupled with increased numbers of shoppers and events to entice them in to city centres like Nottingham."

The AA traffic news website reported severe delays on most roads out of the city including Trent Bridge and Radcliffe Road, Clifton Boulevard, Queen's Drive and Colwick Loop Road.

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Nottingham City Transport said its worst-delayed bus was two hours 12 minutes late, and one worker said it was the worst traffic they had seen in eight years at NCT.

Mr Disney added: "I would not be surprised if it would does not happen at least once again in the next month and it is not just a Nottingham problem.

"There is no short-term remedy other better deployment of police, PCSOs, traffic wardens to try to keep key junctions flowing especially where the ring roads intersect major radial routes.

"Long-term we need to ensure that bus and train services don't stop at 6pm and are sensibly priced."

There are more cars on the roads as there is not an adequate amount of buses running on the roads when people finish work in the evenings, he said.

Emergency services at the scene

Emergency services at the scene

"Public transport into Nottingham from surrounding areas outside the city centre is very poor. Bus services are poor quality and unreliable and many finish by 6pm so are unsuitable for many employees who often have to work flexibly into the early evening.

"You can see buses that are going longer distances coming into the city centre half full [in the mornings]. So if you have a car available there is no incentive to leave it at home as the alternatives are all unattractive."

It is thought traffic was particularly bad along Woodside Road, in Beeston, as motorists were diverted from the A6005.

As part of a parking improvement scheme, the street was reduced to one road in both directions to improve parking for residents living there.

But this caused traffic to build up last night.

"I would imagine that schemes like that should only be used on those that are not through roads," Mr Disney said.

"If it was used on a cul-de-sac [it would work]. But it's very [problematic] to use it on something like a through road because it inevitably does not work."

Councillor Sally Longford, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for local transport and neighbourhood Services, said: “We understand how frustrating it is when incidents cause congestion. The significant congestion across the city yesterday was a result of a van colliding with a tram on University Boulevard, resulting in the closure of the road in both directions. This was a very unusual major incident that would put a strain on any city road network at rush hour.

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“In such circumstances we do what we can through signalling and diversions to try to reduce the impact on motorists. However, Nottingham has a very compact road network compared to many cities, which means a single incident like this at peak times can have a major impact not just in the immediate area but on the wider network as motorists experience delays and seek alternative routes.

“It’s one of the reasons we have for many years been working to reduce the number of cars that need to be on the road by investing in good quality public transport and cycling and walking improvements through the Workplace Parking Levy. Recent figures show this is working, with public transport use increasing while the volume of traffic on the road is decreasing.

“The new road layout on Woodside Road is currently being trialled to allow for residents’ parking and the possibility of adding a new cycle lane. We will be reviewing how the scheme works for all road users before deciding whether to make this permanent.”

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch said it has been notified about the incident but enquiries are ongoing.