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01 March 2016

Decision on A591 temporary road access

Shuttle Bus 2

After two weeks of successful shuttle-bus traffic on the temporary road bypassing ‘the gap’ on Dunmail Raise, a decision has been reached on the extent of vehicle access to be permitted over the road.
 
The key question was whether traffic could safely and practically be allowed to travel on the road along the western shore of the reservoir, and along the new temporary road. The likely volume of traffic and the nature of the roads themselves were key considerations.
 
On average two way traffic flows on the A591 in the months of March, April and May are in the order of 5000 vehicles per day. Given this likely volume of traffic, and the narrowness of the road, highways engineers do not believe the western road could be opened to two-way traffic without causing gridlock.
 
To allow the western road, and temporary road, to open to one-way traffic a convoy system would be required over the full 9 km route, with traffic moving north and south in sequence. To cope with the peak hourly traffic, 300 vehicles in a single direction, the convoys would need to be over 1km long and would take around 40 minutes to clear the diversion route. 
 
This would result in traffic being queued for up to 2 hours at each end, making the journey time potentially longer than existing diversion routes. In addition, any incidents of traffic moving in the ‘wrong’ direction on the western road, or a breakdown, would severely disrupt the convoy system causing further delay. Such a system would also hamper access for emergency vehicles and the shuttle-bus which is already proving to be so popular its capacity has been increased. The bus service will continue to be monitored and amended to meet demand.
 
Because of these serious practical problems it has been decided that access along the western shore road and temporary road will be limited to:

�         School buses
�         Scheduled bus services
�         Pedestrians
�         Cyclists
�         Emergency vehicles
�         Residents living between the north and south road closure points on the A591
�         Cumbria County Council gritters
�         Essential construction traffic and site operational vehicles

Cllr Keith Little, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said:
 
“We’ve looked at this very carefully because we understand the impact the road closure is having, but after long consideration we’ve come to the conclusion we cannot allow the general public to drive the road, it is simply not a practical option and would disrupt a bus service that is proving to be very successful. I appreciate this decision may disappoint people, but we have to follow the advice of our professional highways engineers. They make these decisions based on many years’ experience managing the county’s roads.”

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After two weeks of successful shuttle-bus traffic on the temporary road bypassing �the gap� on Dunmail Raise, a decision has been reached on the extent of vehicle access to be permitted over the road.