On 14th March 2015, the Tivoli pub in Cambridge caught fire. Shortly afterwards, the fire brigade closed the Mitcham’s Corner gyratory and Victoria Avenue to traffic.
Shortly after that, motor vehicle traffic throughout Cambridge ground to a halt – bicycles remained fine. Fortunately, it was both a Sunday, and a short-term closure, and the roads reopened later in the day.
What if that closure had lasted much longer on weekdays? Does Cambridge have a plan for the medium-long term loss of a bridge or major junction? (I understand it doesn’t)
While Network Rail has contingency plans for the closure of a major train station, the road authorities seem not to. i.e. There are plans to cope with the emergency closure of rail traffic under the Hills Road Bridge, but not road traffic over it.
Responsibility is split between the Mayor and Combined Authority (transport), county council (also transport), and the city council (urban planning) – this is not a recipe for an adequate response to a predictable event.
As is clear whenever it is wet or cold, road traffic in Cambridge can come under pressure very easily. The concept of “winter pressures” will be familiar to those on the Commission who have seen the NHS planning process. It would be a problem for everyone if motor vehicle transport in Cambridge turned into “Narnia” – winter pressures all the time.
This may seem to be an arcane issue, however, if the traffic of Cambridge continues to degrade, the scenario planning for mitigations of road traffic may become increasingly useful over time for coping with normal traffic loads.
This is not evidence of a solution, but evidence of a question that needs to be answered to help with the travel around Cambridge:
Do relevant authorities have plans for a medium term closure of:
- Mitcham’s Corner gyratory / Victoria Ave bridge
- Silver Street bridge
- Fen Causeway
- Elizabeth Way bridge and roundabouts
- Mill Road bridge
- Newmarket Road railway bridge (including the Chisholm Trail)
What are the expected consequences of such a medium term closure? What are the planned mitigations to those consequences? What would be the effect of those mitigations on traffic flows on a normal day, and on air quality?