High level bridge traffic management.doc - Gateshead Council

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Network Rail have carried out full assessments of the implications of these design standards on the High Level Bridge. These critical safety concerns now

Newcastle & Gateshead Joint Bridges Committee

    5 April 2005

    High Level Bridge Traffic Management

    Report by: Director of Regeneration, Newcastle City Council Ward Implications: Westgate/Bede , Bridges

     For Information

    Synopsis 1.

    1.1 On 26 February 2005, the High Level Bridge was closed to „vehicular traffic‟ so

    as to allow Network Rail to effect urgent and necessary structural repairs to the

    bridge. This report outlines the arrangements put in place and yet to be

    implemented to cater for this substantive change to the Tyne infrastructure.

    Recommendation 2.

    2.1 The Committee is recommended to:

    Note the traffic management regime put in place and the ongoing consideration 2.1.1 of the long term operation of the bridge in relation to motorvehicle traffic.

    Background 3.

    3.1 The High Level Bridge was constructed in 1849 by Robert Stephenson and is a

    Grade 1 Listed structure. The Bridge owners, Network Rail, have carried out a

    full assessment of this historic structure and are very concerned about the

    volume of traffic using the bridge, individual vehicle weights and traffic speed.

    3.2 The road deck of the bridge is constructed out of timber with a tarmac type road

    surface. Investigation has shown that the timber deck is in a poor condition and

    is in need of total replacement if it is to continue to carry traffic. Due to width

    constraints and the construction methods involved, it is not possible to carry out

    this work without closing the bridge to road vehicles for approximately 8 months.

    Network Rail have been in discussion with both the City Council and Gateshead

    MBC over the timing of these works and it has been agreed that the least

    disruptive time would be from March to October 2005. However, the exact

    duration will not be known until work has started, the timber deck is exposed,

    and a detailed assessment carried out. The risk of, and undesirability of this

work over-running October 2005 and towards Christmas has resulted in the

    start of work being brought forward to end of February 2005.

    3.3 The High Level Bridge carries the lightest traffic flow of all of the City Centre

    road bridges, carrying approximately 8,000 vehicles per day compared with the

    Tyne Bridge‟s 60,000. It equates to approximately 6% of the City Centre cross

    river traffic flow.

    3.4 Whilst the High Level Bridge is not so important in overall traffic terms, it is very

    critical to bus movements. Over 1,050 buses per day use the bridge and this

    makes the High Level equal highest in terms of bus movements with the Tyne

    Bridge. With the High Level Bridge 13% of the traffic is made up by buses,

    whereas with the Tyne Bridge it is only 1.7%. In passenger movement terms,

    High Level Bridge carries more bus passengers in the peak hours than car


    3.5 As a result of these numbers, the closure of the High Level Bridge for 8 months will have a disproportionately negative effect on bus services and passengers It

    was therefore necessary to introduce some traffic mitigation measures in the

    City Centre to minimise these effects by improving bus journey times elsewhere.

Traffic Management (Temporary) 4.

    4.1 Discussions with the main bus operator, Go-North East, identified the

    southbound Newcastle to Gateshead movement as being the most critical in

    traffic / bus movement terms. Alternative options were discussed including terminating all bus services in Gateshead, use of the Metro, use of bridges

    outside the City Centre. None of these were felt to be viable in terms of the

    timescales involved and the need to maintain passenger use of the bus network

    which will limit the risk of a significant transfer of the travelling public to the

    private car.

    4.2 Whilst car traffic appears to have dispersed to a number of other river crossings,

    the displaced bus services have had to transfer to the Tyne Bridge. However,

    this is by far the busiest of all of the river crossings and it was envisaged that

    the result could be very significant peak hour delays to bus services through

    additional journey times and congestion delays. This would reduce their

    attractiveness to the public and risk a short, and possibly long term mode

    transfer from public transport to the private car unless measures were taken to

    mitigate these effects. History shows that such mode transfers are very difficult

    to reverse.

    4.3 Recent traffic surveys show that typical journey times for buses across the High

    Level bridge (southbound from Groat market to Hill Street) was approximately 3

    minutes in the morning peak hour. Surveys on the alternative route showed that

    it would take buses this length of time to just travel the length of Mosley St up to Swan House roundabout, and that is without any displacement of traffic from

    High Level Bridge. The additional delays getting around the roundabout, getting

    on to and across the Tyne Bridge could easily have trebled the previous journey time.

    It was clear that the alternative southbound route for buses would incur

    significant time travel if traffic mitigation measures were not introduced to give a

movement advantage to buses.

    4.4 It was therefore proposed that during the 8 month closure of the High Level

    Bridge the following traffic arrangements would be will applied:-

    ? Southbound buses continue to use Newcastle City Centre, in particular

    Eldon Square Bus Station, Newgate Street and Bigg Market;

    ? Southbound buses will turn left from Bigg Market Groat Market into

    Mosely Street. An off-side “Bus and Taxi” Lane has been introduced on

    Mosley Street from its junction with Groat Market to Swan House


    ? No Waiting at Any Time (double yellow line) restriction introduced on the

    north side of Mosley Street, plus a Peak Hour Loading Ban (8:00 am-

    9:15 am, 4:00 pm-6:00 pm);

    ? No Waiting at Any time introduced on the north side of Collingwood


    ? New traffic arrangements introduced restricting movement from Swan

    House roundabout onto the Tyne Bridge slip road which will be limited to

    „Buses Only‟ from 07:00 am to 07:00 pm, and to „Buses and Taxi only‟ at

    all other times. This restriction considered to be critical to the success of

    the package of traffic mitigation measures. A free running segregated

    left turn introduced to allow traffic leaving City Road to continue to use

    the left hand lane to access the Tyne Bridge;

    ? Some inbound services transferred to Blackett Street in order to access

    Eldon Square bus station;

    ? The traffic restrictions were introduced by means of a Temporary Traffic

    Regulation Order only for the duration of the works.

Traffic Management (Permanent) 5.

    5.1 National design standards in relation to possible vehicle collisions with bridge

    structures have become more onerous over recent years. Network Rail have

    carried out full assessments of the implications of these design standards on the High Level Bridge. These critical safety concerns now dictate that the vehicular

    carriageway of the bridge will need to be lined on either side by motorway style

    crash barrier to prevent a vehicle colliding with the bridge structure. The use of this barrier, and the lateral clearance space behind, means that there will only

    be sufficient room on the High Level Bridge for one lane of traffic at a time.

    Detailed traffic modelling work is currently being undertaken by Newcastle City

    Council and Gateshead MBC to assess the implications of this width restriction

    which will inevitably lead to the implementation of some form of traffic restriction

    after the bridge re-opens. Once formulated, the proposals will be subject to the

    normal consultations and statutory processes.

    Background Papers and Contact Officer Details 6.

     List of Background Papers:- held by Head of Planning & Transportation,

    Newcastle City Council on file [ ]

     Contact Officer:-

    Paul Fenwick - Newcastle City Council 211 6058

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