CONTROVERSIAL proposals to change one of Coventry’s busiest road junctions have come under fire from protesting residents and councillors.
The council is considering major alterations to the Brays Lane/Walsgrave Road junction in Stoke.
The aim is to reduce air pollution in Ball Hill – one of six areas in Coventry where nitrogen dioxide levels exceed the legal limit.
But residents’ groups and ward councillors argue it will create rat-runs in side-streets, making congestion and pollution worse for people living there.
Drivers heading north along Brays Lane will not be able to access Walsgrave Road directly. They will be able to join the main road either via St Agatha’s Road, or via a new left turn into St Osburg’s Road, and then by winding their way along St Ann’s Road and St Michael’s Road.
Drivers in Clay Lane will still be able to cross Walsgrave Road to get to Brays Lane.
In a letter to residents, council officers say the proposed changes would reduce congestion and pollution from stationary and queuing vehicles, and cut delays to journeys.
Other ideas include linking the traffic lights with the nearby pedestrian crossing to reduce delays, and changing the layout of a bus stop in Ball Hill so traffic heading out of the city can pass a stopped bus more easily.
The scheme, funded by a government grant for improving air quality, is part of works along the A4600 and work is due to start early next year.
Three residents’ groups in Stoke expressing concern are backed by all three ward councillors John McNicholas, Catherine Miks and Rupinder Singh.
The Stoke Park Residents’ Group, the Gosford Park Residents’ Association and the St Brays Residents’ Association say forcing traffic down side roads will put people at risk from congestion and pollution.
Parked cars already make those streets difficult to use, they argue, and St Ann’s Road has a busy entrance to Sacred Heart School. The residents warn queues will form in St Michael’s Road as traffic waits to join Walsgrave Road.
The St Brays group has organised a petition with 100 names.
Councillor McNicholas said: “I have made it clear to officers that creating rat-runs is completely unacceptable.”
Kevin Malcolm, chair of the Stoke Park Residents’ Group, said: “Of course we want to reduce air pollution, which affects all of us. But we believe that this won’t work, and that it will make things worse for a lot of people.”
Councillor McNicholas said he and his two council colleagues had put forward alternative ideas.
They include urging National Express to use only new electric buses, or buses with cleaner Euro 6 engines on Ball Hill routes; enlarging bus bays to keep traffic moving; improving the Sky Blue Way junction to prevent hold-ups there; signage to take HGVs away from the area; creating a roundabout to replace the traffic lights at the Brays Lane junction; and encouraging the use of electric taxis.
He said: “We are pushing at an open door. The officers want to come up with a solution which will have a minimal impact on the local community.
“They are going to go away and come back with further proposals. These will be collated for the cabinet member to consider.”