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Green backs roads in transport debate

ICE news

HIGHWAY AUTHORITIES that fail to tackle road congestion should be named and shamed, ICE past president David Green told local authority engineers last month.

Speaking at the Association of Municipal Engineers annual conference in Canterbury, Green said that authorities should be forced to measure, monitor and publish travel times for set routes in a range of transport modes at different times of the day, and be set targets for improving vehicle flow.

Drawing on the recently published Construction Industry Council report 'Integrated Transport and the 10 year plan', which he co-authored, Green asked: 'If you haven't got targets for congestion, how can you have a strategy for reducing it?'

Green suggests acceptable targets could be differences in travel times from peak to offpeak of 15% for inter-urban travel, rising to 30% for intraurban travel. Green calculates the current figure for Sheffield to be in the region of 300%.

Green also attacked what he described as an 'infatuation with light rail', calling instead for more use of quality bus partnerships, unimpeded bus lanes, and greater bus regulation.

The CIC report is heavily critical of the 10 year transport plan, calling for greater investment in road building (NCE 23 May), and Green was keen to emphasise the difference in funding between roads and rail.

'The spend on rail this year will be 13 times as much as on strategic roads, even though strategic roads are used for 34 times the journeys, ' said Green.

'We as engineers need to shout a bit sometimes, as it simply doesn't make sense, ' he said.

'The bandying about of billions of pounds no longer cuts any ice, ' he said. 'The government, having seen the frustration, says that it has the answers and to be patient. But what if its answers are wrong?'

The CIC report begins with four conclusions: that the 10 year plan expenditure is unrealistic; that the public and industry have been misled and that things will get worse; that improvements in public transport alone will not solve congestion; and that land use planning can make a difference.

However, the UK's current approach to spatial planning came under fire from Green: 'We will put a tunnel under Stonehenge, but we won't put tunnels under our cities.

'People have got hung up on roads as capacity and not as improving quality of life, ' said Green. 'We need a greater concentration on the regeneration of our cities to make them safer, more attractive, reducing drift from town and cities.'

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