‘Rad­i­cal shared space plan the only way to get mov­ing’

We con­tinue our cam­paign to find ways to beat con­ges­tion in Maid­stone. This week’s fo­cus is on Wheat­sheaf junc­tion, a key pinch point, says Alan Smith

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

1015kg pay­load Will carry an 8’ x 4’ sheet flat The Wheat­sheaf junc­tion con­nects sev­eral ar­eas, but for many of us it has be­come one of the ma­jor hold-ups – ev­ery day.

It han­dles traf­fic to the south of Maid­stone and con­nects the town with the A229 to Loose and Sta­ple­hurst and Sut­ton Road to­wards Head­corn.

With ex­ten­sive house build­ing al­ready un­der way on the Sut­ton Road, the sit­u­a­tion will only get worse.

Sean Carter is chair­man of the South Maid­stone Ac­tion for Roads and Trans­port Fo­rum (SMART).

He said: “With more than 37,000 ve­hi­cles go­ing through the Wheat­sheaf junc­tion in 12 hours, and all the ex­tra devel­op­ment go­ing on, this em­pha­sises even more the need for a south­ern re­lief road as the top pri­or­ity.

“But even then, this junc­tion will con­tinue be a ma­jor con­ges­tion point – as well as a ma­jor air pol­lu­tion and health hazard for lo­cal res­i­dents.”

The four-way junc­tion has been con­trolled by traf­fic lights since the 1980s. SMART is propos­ing a ‘shared space’ scheme – sim­i­lar to that al­ready in use in Poyn­ton in Cheshire.

Mr Carter said: “A shared space scheme could im­prove traf­fic flow and pro­vide a safer en­vi­ron­ment for pedes­tri­ans us­ing the shops, South Park and other fa­cil­i­ties in the area.”

In Poyn­ton in 2011, the lo­cal author­ity re­con­structed the ma­jor junc­tion in the town, which was car­ry­ing 10,500 ve­hi­cles a day. The scheme in­volved a se­quence of cross­ings, a cen­tral reser­va­tion to as­sist pedes­tri­ans

Above, traf­fic chaos at Wheat­sheaf junc­tion, Sut­ton Road and Plains Av­enue junc­tion; inset, Sean Carter, chair­man of the South Maid­stone Ac­tion for Roads and Trans­port Fo­rum

The new shared space scheme in Poyn­ton, Cheshire

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