Well known traffic system in Sheffield will be scrapped

A skyline traffic system in Sheffield is to be scrapped because it keeps breaking.

Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 14:23 pm
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 11:56 am

Heeley motorists have spent almost 40 years being directed by huge illuminated ticks and crosses hanging above Queens Road.

But the gantry system has been plagued by problems and will now be dismantled and replaced with two lanes for traffic in one direction and two lanes for traffic in the opposite direction.

The lights, described as a tidal traffic management system, have been over the A61 London Road to Queens Road since 1981 and vary the number of lanes according to the time of day.

It originally covered the length between Thirlwell Road and St Wilfrid’s Road but this was later reduced due to safety concerns and rising maintenance costs. It now covers Broadfield Road to St Wilfrid’s Road but the three defunct overhead gantries remain in place.

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Council officer Simon Nelson says in a report: “The signs require significant amendment, the method of operation doesn’t meet current standards, the system is a considerable maintenance liability and periodic malfunctions have a hugely detrimental impact on the highway network.

“On average, the tidal flow system is out of action, i.e a lane is closed to all traffic, once a month due to either critical lamp failures or communications problems.

“This doesn’t include any downtime due to non-critical lamp failures, the replacement of which also requires the closure of lanes.

“Any like-for-like replacement system is unlikely to be feasible. It would have to comply with current regulations requiring significant additional investment in terms of both infrastructure and the cost of ongoing maintenance.”

Amey, through the Streets Ahead highway maintenance contract, plans to remove the system altogether and says it will save £250,000.

Work will include removing all nine overhead gantries, reassigning traffic lanes, altering the timing of traffic signals and altering the junction of London Road and Queens Road with Wolseley Road. Two full-time inbound and two full-time outbound lanes will be created on Queens Road.

The report adds: “The outbound evening peak queue on Queens Road between Charlotte Road and Alderson Road will be longer than at present, however overall journey times will be unaffected.

“Journey times will be more reliable as the removal of the system will eradicate the increasingly frequent faults that trigger the closure of the tidal lane.

“This will complement the recently completed widening of Chesterfield Road between Heeley Retail Park and Saxon Road and the proposed widening of London Road between Gleadless Road and Wolseley Road to establish two continuous inbound lanes between Woodseats and Granville Square.

“Future maintenance will be far easier and less disruptive, and officers feel the layout will be clearer to drivers unfamiliar with the area.”

The system will start to be replaced during the spring bank holiday in May to give drivers a chance to get used to the new lane changes.

The gantries will be removed, the junction with Wolseley Road is to be altered and the carriageways and footways will be resurfaced during the school summer holidays.