Sunderland City Council has apologised to the tens of thousands of drivers hit by severe delays yesterday – but urged them to complete and return the much-maligned traffic survey cards which caused outrage on Wearside.
The council conducted the major survey – the first of its scale in the city – to help gather information for plans to improve the city’s road network with a £45m dual-carriageway from the A19 to the Port of Sunderland.
The survey was held at five strategic points in the city’s road network as part of Government funding requirements towards the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor Phase 3 – a dual-carriageway link between the A19 and the Port of Sunderland.
The survey points were on the Wearmouth and Queen Alexandra bridges, the A1231 Wessington Way, A1290 Washington Road, and the A690 Chester Road.
The traffic survey consisted of a roadside interview element, while more than 35,000 cards were distributed.
But the practice of stopping rush-hour traffic, causing tailbacks some of which were several miles in length, left many drivers furious, and pledging not to complete the survey.
Now council bosses have appealed to drivers to take part in the survey, so that the city does not miss out on government funding for the £45million project, to build the new dual carriageway through Pallion, Deptford and Farringdon Row into the city centre, to link with St Mary’s Boulevard.
Councillor Michael Mordey, the council’s portfolio holder for City Services, said: “We all want to see improvements to our road network to help drive forward more investment, to create jobs and to help with travel across our city.
“To get this work done, central government rules state that we have to complete these comprehensive traffic surveys.
“The surveys help understand driver journeys and is a requirement from Central Government. The Government rules say it has to be done.
“The information helps funding approvals from the government as the council submits further analysis of how and where drivers make their journeys.
“We are gathering information now and would remind everyone to please return their surveys by post or to use the online link.
“The council understands the delays that were caused, takes responsibility for it, and apologises for the inconvenience.
“It’s the first-time that a survey on such a scale has ever been carried out in Sunderland. The survey reflected the size and importance of plans for the city’s road network.
“There are no plans at present for another major survey. Please return your survey information as it all helps with plans to update our road network with this new dual-carriageway.”
A provisional allocation of £40.5m funding for the SSTC Phase 3 has been made through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan and Local Growth Deal allocation. A further £5m will be contributed by the City Council.
The scheme is designed to improve opportunities for regenerating key riverside sites including Pallion, Deptford and Farringdon Row. Alongside the £100m New Wear Crossing project, it will reduce congestion, improve access to the city centre and other key employment sites.
Further planning for the SSTC Phase 3 is underway with works earmarked for 2017 and completion in 2019.
More details about SSTC Phase 3 are available at www.sunderland.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10384