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Back to the bypass

The Newbury bypass debate has produced a flood of strongly voiced correspondence. Here are some edited highlights.

Propaganda war

Views have become so polarised over the years that it is probably now impossible for any of us to imagine what might have been provided if Newbury's traffic problems had been considered anew in today's climate. However, to state that 'no clued-up traffic engineer would put forward the Newbury bypass scheme today', as your editorial did (NCE 19 November), is to accept the propaganda of the anti-roads lobby.

You might not think so from current media coverage, but new build is still an option in dealing with traffic problems. There are still 37 new build projects being considered by the Highways Agency for trunk road schemes, as well as many other smaller improvements around the network.

Nigel Robinson, manager, Mott MacDonald Highway Division, Capital House, 48/52 Andover Road, Winchester, Hants SO23 7BH.

Double trouble

I applaud your strong line on the 'nonsense' of the Newbury bypass. Alas, it is a hugely expensive nonsense marring a pleasant landscape.

Those using the bypass may notice a disused trackway running parallel with the road. This is the line of the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway, built in the 1880s to link the industrial Midlands with the port of Southampton. It closed in the early 1960s; the track was lifted in 1967.

Now, we have an expensively-dualled intrusive road for traffic that the railway, if still open, could have handled at a lesser environmental and (I suspect) economic cost.

The line ran south through Winchester before joining the main Southampton line just south of Twyford Down. Now, does my memory fail me, or wasn't there a hugely intrusive and strongly-opposed road scheme carried out there too? Just the sort of thing that an integrated transport policy would avoid? Both along the same abandoned railway route? No - surely we don't make mistakes like that twice, do we?

Michael Bussell (G), 23 Fitzgeorge Avenue, London W14 0SY.

Right on is quite wrong

Never have I read such politically correct claptrap as filled your Commentary on the Newbury bypass.

Undoubtedly the bypass will adversely affect some of those living near it, mainly by traffic noise. However, the permanent effects on the environment are unlikely to be substantial. There is detriment to the landscape but the latter is not of outstanding quality. So how is this scheme so markedly different from numerous other bypasses in the last 40 years as to justify being described as 'an anachronism'? And what percentage of those living in previously bypassed towns would say today that they would rather their bypasses had not been built?

John Bowden (M), 15 South Craig, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 2JH.

Planning application

We have moved on from the bad old days of providing ever more road space regardless of any long term strategic view of transport and planning. However, the public should not be misled into believing that an integrated transport policy can deliver a comprehensive transport system into the 21st century without including carefully considered new road construction.

By any standards, the A34 trunk road from Southampton to the Midlands is a strategic route of national economic importance.

Colin Carritt (M), Doyley Hall, 83 Manor Road, Woodstock, Oxford OX20 1XS.

Civilised plea

I believe that the demand for road space must be managed and that road users must pay the true cost, but a basic, safe and civilised road network is still required.

KB Madelin (F), Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT.

Satisfied customer

Contrary to David Lines' doubting remark about whether the residents of Newbury are noticing much difference now the bypass is in place, I am finding the traffic conditions to be a delight!

Sir John Knill (F), Highwood Farm, Shaw, Newbury RG14 2TB.

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