Traffic is an ever-present isssue for Blythburgh residents. Whether the volume and speed of vehicles on the A12, rat-running in Dunwich Road, or problems for vehicles and the safety of pedestrians at the Angel Lane bottleneck, the subject has led to persistent questioning. Why can't something be done? Isn't a one-way system for Angel Lane, to make a footpath possible, an obvious step? What about a pedestrian crossing for the A12? Why not exclude through traffic altogether from Dunwich Road by closing it at the water tower? There has been no shortage of suggestions. The wheel has been reinvented many times!
In May 2013 the Parish Council agreed a strategic plan for traffic management in Blythburgh. It was a laymen's view of the situation, intended as a spur to the county coucil, as the highways authority, to engage with the village in a constructive discussion of traffic problems and possible solutions. The county and its consultants, Kier MG, took the Blythburgh study seriously. Their comments and conclusions were presented in a paper dated September 2014. Links to the Blythburgh paper and the county's response are given below.
A meeting of the parties had to wait for the county to complete a review of aspects of its traffic management policy. In September 2014 traffic was at last discussed. Of course, over the years, Blythburgh had not sat on its hands. The village had the very first Speedwatch group in Suffolk. It has done sterling work on the A12 and Dunwich Road. After a period suspension a new co-ordinator has stepped forward and Speedwatch is up and running again.
Discussions between the Parish and the County have identified what is possible and at what cost. In November 2014 the parish council agreed to spend £3,035 on a flashing speed warning sign - a VAS - vehicle activated sign. The county council paid for the necessary posts. The Department of Transport recommends that signs should be moved because they become less effective as drivers become familiar with them so the VAS is rotated between the three sites; Dunwich Road, the southern A12 approach to the village and the northern A12 approach to the village. As well as alerting speeding drivers the VAS is generating valuable information on traffic flows and speeds. The parish council has purchased an additional device to monitor traffic volume and speed without a display visible to drivers. An assessment of the impact of the VAS can therefore be made. The next action is to install prominent gateway signs for the A12. The total cost of two gateways on the A12 would be approximately £7,800. This project is close to completion with the Gateways now installed but the associated road marking not in place yet (May2019).
Dealing with the dangerous 100 metres of Angel Lane where it joins the A12 is more difficult. To provide a footpath would necessitate the creation of a one-way system for north-bound traffic. What happens to the excluded south-bound B1125 traffic is a crucial question. It cannot be allowed to take obvious short cuts by turning left into The Street or Chapel Road. But currrently the desired route from Toby's Walks along the B1387 to the Water Tower needs improvement for the carriageway and the junctions. The approximate cost of doing this is £85,000. Traffic calming measures within the village would also be needed to discourage rat-running.
Providing crossings for pedestrians on the A12, or central refuges, is not possible according to the highways authority. The safe locations in relation to the traffic would be too far from the positions desired by pedestrians and the crossings would not be used.
For any proposed action it is important that the support of residents is gained. This is not always easy when the solution of one problem is perceived as the creation of problems for others.
Another traffic issue is the problem of parking for some events held at the church. Parked cars have created access problems for residents and the blocking of the highway in Church Road, Chapel Road and Angel Lane. Highly active parking monitors provided by the Church have reduced this as an issue for residents.
Traffic hazards and problems for pedestrians can be increased by allowing hedges to grow into the carriageway and the parish council has urged residents to control hedges that may create such problems.