Closed lane in Newarke Street, Leicester, 'not holding up cars'
Highways bosses say the experimental closure of a lane of traffic along one of Leicester's busiest streets is not creating more congestion – despite complaints by motorists.
Leicester City Council wants to create a wide promenade along Newarke Street to extend the "New Walk experience," and has shut one of its three lanes to see what impact the scheme would have on traffic flow.
A number of drivers have contacted the Mercury to say the move has increased rush-hour congestion and caused queues.
But the council said its traffic monitoring sensors told a different story.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
Congestion and traffic flow has been compared before and since the lane closure, which began on January 7 – and the authority said the levels remained roughly the same.
Andy Thomas, the council's head of traffic management, said altering the sequence of traffic lights had compensated for the loss of the lane.
He said: "It's like taps flowing into a basin. You have to adjust the taps to control the flow.
"Drivers will insist they are waiting longer in queues – and on the first day of the closure there were some problems.
"After that, we were able to manually intervene with the computer-controlled sequences to keep the flow moving.
"We would give the lights extra time on green when needed."
From November 5 to 8, underground sensors at the southern end of Southgates underpass recorded between 1,750 and 2,000 vehicles an hour between 8am and 9am.
The figures were largely the same for January 14 to 17 – also Monday to Thursday – when the lane closure was in place.
Mr Thomas said recordings from Causeway Lane and Oxford Street showed similar trends.
He said: "There will always be some congestion because it is a busy road but, largely, it is not worse than it was."
Some drivers were sceptical about the findings.
Haroon Ahmed, 43, of Newfoundpool, Leicester, drives down Newarke Street daily to get to work.
He said: "You can prove anything with statistics but I have the same routine every day.
"I leave the house at the same time each morning to get to work and since that lane got closed, I've been arriving later.
"It can be quarter of an hour. Don't tell me it is not worse."
Angela Southon, 40, of Leicester's West End, said: "It's definitely more congested. It isn't unbearably worse but it is worse."
The lane closure was lifted during the snow and ice and reinstalled on January 28.
Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said the trial would continue for a "few more weeks" before he decided whether to make the closure permanent.
He said: "I am assured by officers that although there may be a perception congestion is worse, the evidence does not show that.
"When managing traffic, it's the capacity of the junctions that is more important than the number of lanes.
"There has been problems, such as delivery drivers blocking lanes, but that could happen on any road.
"I have asked traffic wardens to keep an eye on the area."