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Hull City Council’s letter to National Highways over response to A63 traffic light failures

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Hull City Council has written to the chief executive of National Highways, seeking assurance over traffic lights failures that have caused major disruption on the A63.

The signals at the Garrison Road roundabout and the Queen Street junction have both been out of use in recent weeks, causing severe delays and frustration for motorists and businesses.

Both of these junctions are the responsibility of National Highways. Each connects to the local road network, which is operated by the council, and when problems arise, the council works closely with National Highways to seek an early remedy.

While the lights at Queen Street have now been repaired, the signals at Garrison Road roundabout are still out of action after being damaged in a traffic collision on December 19.

Last week, the council wrote to Nick Harris, chief executive of National Highways, to raise concerns about the length of time taken to repair the signals, as well as the other incidents along the A63.

The letter proposed that the two organisations work more closely to “establish an improved reactive response and communication mechanism”.

Councillor Dean Kirk, portfolio holder for roads, transport and highways, said: “We work closely with the National Highways project team to ensure that the construction works relating to the Castle Street scheme have as little impact as possible on our local road network.

“However, the Garrison Road lights are managed by the National Highways network team, and their failure is creating major challenges and delays on our network. It is imperative that they are repaired and protected from future collisions as quickly as possible.”

Below is the letter in full…

Date: 13 January 2022

Dear Mr Harris,

As I hope you are aware, on 19th December 2021, a road traffic collision damaged your traffic signal control asset at the Garrison Road roundabout in Hull. The initial response from National Highways on the day was excellent.

However, since that time, we have continually struggled to get updates on when these signals will be repaired, despite almost daily requests to your team from Council Officers and Senior Managers.

“The on-going absence of these signals, and their associated set of traffic lights at Queens Street, is causing very considerable disruption to traffic across our city and Hull City Council Officers are continually having to deal with a substantial number of frustrated enquiries about when this will be resolved, especially from our business community because this is materially affecting a number of our major businesses and the access to our port. Our MPs are also pressing us directly about the time being taken to resolve this issue and are similarly being lobbied by many of our businesses.”

As you know, the A63 is a National Highways ‘key route’ linking the east and west of our city and, being less than 500 metres from our city centre, is the main influencer of the movement of traffic in, around and through Hull. The significance of the road to our network is recognised in the welcomed major investment in the A63 upgrade, which is currently being constructed.

Prior to these works commencing, any incident on this road already had, within minutes, a major impact on our wider road infrastructure and quickly bottlenecked much of the city, including access to key emergency sites.

Since the major works have started, we have seen the number of incidents in this area escalate significantly and, in recent weeks, have had traffic accidents, minor tidal flooding, burst water mains and vehicle breakdowns, all resulting in major traffic congestion problems.

It is now 13th January 2022, and these signals have been out of action since before Christmas, but we are still unable to offer our businesses and residents any insight in relation to when they will be repaired.

Consequently, I am seeking your urgent assurance that these repairs will be expedited as a matter of priority, that Council Officers will be updated immediately in relation to the status of the repair and that this update will also communicated more widely by National Highways directly.

Beyond this, our perception from the way this on-going issue is being handled, is that this highlights a deeper problem. There appears to be a lack of understanding and localised knowledge within National Highways of the wider impacts of any incidents, large or small, in this area on our wider network and of the speed with which those wider impacts develop. I would, therefore, propose that we commit to getting our two organisations to work together more closely in order to strengthen that understanding and establish an improved reactive response and communication mechanism.

Thank you for your assistance and I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,
Matt Jukes,
Chief Executive,
Hull City Council

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