20 January 2012

Cheltenham and Ivydale Road Road works - What is going on?

Local residents will know that resurfacing and reconstruction works have been going on over a number of week on a section of Ivydale Road (west of Merttins Road) and Cheltenham Road. The works will improve residential roads which have become very bumpy, largely as a result of 343 and 484 buses travelling on these roads.  This has become a particular problem in recent years because the combination of heavy buses and deteriorating roads has lead to serious shaking of people homes.

Through a combination of Councillors' and local residents' campaigning in 2011 we were able to secure the funding for the works.  Prior to works starting there was a joint meeting between local residents, councillors and council officers out on the street.  At that meeting we were told by officers that the works would include full-depth reconstruction of the entire length of Cheltenham Road and the relevant section of Ivydale Road.

Since works have begun it's become clear that full-depth reconstruction of the all of the roads was not in fact happening.  The worst affected sections (such as around the old ramps) were getting full depth reconstruction, but other sections were not.  As you would expect, this has caused a great deal of consternation locally.  Why would people be told that all of the road needed and would get this full depth work and then something less was being delivered? It would be fair to say that the uncertainty was not helped by the fact that we were not getting prompt answers to the various queries we were raising.

Well, to bring you up to date, over the last week we have finally starter to get some answers. On Wednesday evening councillors received an email which suggested that, because of limitations on the budget, only those parts of the roads which required full-depth reconstruction would be getting this work.  The other parts of the road would be resurfaced, but not to a full-depth. We immediately responded to say this was not acceptable to re-iterated that we had clearly been lead to believe that full-depth reconstruction would take place for the whole road.  This morning (Friday) Peckham Rye Councillors met with officers, including the senior manager with responsibility for the project, to put our case.  There was, to put it euphemistically, a full and frank exchange of views.

Officers working on the roads have now told us that in their view, the plan for the roads was to only undertake full-depth reconstruction where is was needed. In their view, not all parts of the roads need this level of work and the money available for the project is not enough to cover full depth reconstruction throughout. We have made clear that not only was this not our understanding, but that we feel that councillors and residents have been misled over the scope of the works at several meetings that were held.

As councillors we feel that we have no choice but to pursue the issue of the misleading information being given through official channels.  We made it clear that we would do this at our meeting this morning.

Unfortunately, it is clear that this process will not change the perimeters of the project for Ivydale and Cheltenham. Parts of the carriageway that clearly need full depth reconstruction on initial inspection are already being subject to this – the two pinch points on Ivydale and the area immediately around them are examples of this. Other sections of the road, where the condition looks better, will be subject to a survey once the top layer of surface has been removed. Where this reveals the substructure is failing, reconstruction will be done, where the substructure is good, it will not be. In better news, officers do not consider the works on Cheltenham Road complete.

They are also unhappy with several patches and parts of the work. The road will be inspected and further works will be done. Usually ‘snagging’ inspections lead to only small improvements been made but officers agree that on parts of Cheltenham, including the stretch that has not received any work, more substantial works will be needed.

On the speed table at the junction with Ivydale and Merttins, this will have test holes dug and will be subject to full depth reconstruction if needed – this is an improvement on the previous position of the council only resurfacing it. The raised table will remain to enforce the 20mph speed limit but the cambers will be as gentle as possible whilst ensuring the table remains an effective traffic calming feature.

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