Congestion at the junction with the M3
Michael frequently receives complaints about the A322 Lightwater bypass, and it is recognised as the most significant cause of traffic congestion in Surrey Heath. He has been working with Surrey County Council and the Department for Transport to seek the necessary investment, and has pressed Highways England for action.
Highways England agreed to head a detailed study into possible solutions, and below is a timeline of the recent action Michael has been taking:
September 2019 – Michael met Councillors Bill Chapman, Mike Goodman, and Rebecca Jennings-Evans at the junction to discuss the congestion and the action they could take together. Michael then wrote to the Leader of Surrey County Council, Tim Oliver, to highlight the issues that had been raised.
February 2020 – Michael wrote to the Chief Executive of Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan, to ask for news concerning the study into possible solutions to ease the traffic issues at the junction of the A322 and the M3. Nick Harris, Highways England’s Operations Executive Director, provided a response and a copy of his letter of 13 March is attached below.
May 2020 – Michael wrote to Nick Harris to ask for an update, and a copy of his response of 8 June is attached below
September 2020 - Michael wrote again to Nick Harris to ask for a further update, and a copy of his response of 16 September is attached below
March 2021 - Michael held a virtual meeting with local County Councillor, Mike Goodman, the Regional Director for Highways England’s South East Operations, Nicola Bell, and the Technology Engineering Manager, Eloise Philips, to discuss the urgent need for action to reduce congestion.
May 2021 - Michael held a further meeting with representatives from Highways England and Surrey County Council to discuss the congestion problems at the junction and how they could be addressed. He posted an update on his Facebook page which you can read here.
June 2021 – Michael met local County Councillors Richard Tear and Rebecca Jennings-Evans to discuss the issue of congestion at the M3/A322 junction, as well as wider problems surrounding noise and air pollution along the M3. They committed to working together to press Highways England, the County Council, the Environment Agency and Defra for the necessary improvements.
July 2021 – Michael sent joint letters with Cllr Tear and Cllr Jennings-Evans to Highways England and Surrey County Council, which are attached below.
September 2021 – Michael, together with Cllr Tear and Cllr Jennings-Evans, continued to press for improvements to deal with traffic congestion and pollution on the A322 and M3. They were in regular touch with Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure at Surrey County Council, and you can read Cllr Furniss’ response here.
January 2022 – Michael held another virtual meeting with a number of representatives from National Highways (formerly Highways England) to discuss what progress had been made regarding long and short-term options for reducing congestion at the M3/A322 junction, as well as what action is being taken to reduce noise and air pollution. He posted an update on his Facebook page, which you can read here. He received the below response and summary of the meeting from National Highways in late January.
February 2022 – To follow-up on the below summary, Michael wrote again to National Highways to reaffirm their commitment to a public meeting with residents and to ask to be updated upon the completion of the Validation Exercise detailed in the January letter. Michael also asked for any further advice and assistance regarding what alternative measures might be available to help mitigate noise and air pollution.
March 2022 – Michael then received the below reply from National Highways suggesting he approaches Defra regarding its Noise Mapping Process.
April 2022 – Michael wrote to Defra to raise residents’ considerable ongoing concerns relating to noise and air pollution emanating from the junction. He explained the importance of finding a feasible solution, especially in light of the previous proposed solutions which have been pursued to little avail, including resurfacing the motorway and planting trees along the noise hotspots. Whilst Defra’s Noise Mapping process is undertaken every five years, with the next exercise scheduled in 2024, Michael asked what mechanisms exist to allow an area to be monitored outside of the usual schedule. He has not yet received a response but will be sure to share any news once received.
June 2022 – Having chased for further news, Michael received the below response from National Highways regarding the completion of its validation exercise. As you will read, the response disappointingly offered limited progress. Consequently, Michael then sought a meeting with the Cabinet Member for Transport at Surrey County Council, Cllr Matt Furniss, so that they could discuss how best to proceed. This meeting took place on 24 June, and it was agreed that they would write again, jointly, to Nicola Bell at National Highways, to offer an update on the continuing deterioration of the situation at the junction and to call once more for further action. Michael also raised the issues with colleagues in the Department for Transport and promised to continue to update affected constituents.
August 2022 – Following Michael and Matt Furniss’ joint letter to National Highways, they received the attached response. Michael also held a meeting with local County Councillors Rebecca Jennings-Evans and Richard Tear at the end of August to discuss ongoing concerns raised by residents and to update them on his approaches to National Highways.
September 2022 – Michael wrote again to National Highways in response to the reply from August, most specifically: to request firmer dates on the outcome of the further work being done to investigate how traffic signal control can be improved by cross-linking the Urban Traffic Control (UTC) to Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation (MOVA); to re-affirm the acute pressures the junction faces, and how these pressures will only grow with planned developments; to request that the matter be treated as an absolute priority by National Highways when approaching the Department for Transport for funding; and to enquire again about the promised public meeting National Highways committed to in January 2022.
October 2022 – Michael received the below response from National Highways clarifying that traffic signal control results would arrive in late November, and also explaining that they were seeking approval from the Department for Transport and that a public meeting would be held once approval was granted or following the conclusion of the route strategy consultation, which will likely be early 2023.
November 2022 – Following the most recent response from National Highways and the appointment of a new Transport Secretary, Michael wrote to the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, to highlight his frustration at the lack of progress being made, and asked him to ensure that the Department and National Highways are working together as efficiently as possible to find a suitable resolution without further delay. He will be sure to share any response he receives.
December 2022 – National Highways wrote to Michael on 1 December to let him know that it had concluded its investigations into cross-linking the Urban Traffic Control (UTC) and would be implementing some soft enhancements for the peak period to improve the tidal movements and achieve more throughput. These changes were scheduled to be made by the 16 December. Michael wrote back on 11 December to ask how long National Highways would be monitoring the performance of the signals before making an assessment, and to request a further meeting. National Highways responded on 21 December agreeing to a meeting, but sadly reported that the previously planned changes of 16 December had been delayed until January.
January 2023 – Michael wrote on 6 January to ask for a confirmed date for the planned changes to the traffic lights. On 23 January, National Highways frustratingly confirmed that the works had been delayed once more.
February 2023 – Michael wrote again to press for the planned changes to the traffic lights to take place as soon as possible and is awaiting a reply.
Lay-by in Bagshot
The A322 lay-by in Bagshot near Freemantle Road was causing local residents a great deal of misery, and following Michael’s campaign with local Councillors, the Surrey Heath Local Area Committee responded and agreed to close the lay-by.
Surrey County Council allocated the necessary funds to permanently close the lay-by, and the work was completed in September 2020.