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Agenda and minutes

Joint Transportation Board
Tuesday 12 April 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

55.

Apologies for Absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillor E J Lampkin (Substitute Cllr. C J Shippam) Cllr. Mrs D Page and Mrs P Cole.

 

The Chairman welcomed all Board and other Members present and thanked them for attending the special meeting of the Board to discuss the continuing issue of traffic congestion in Dartford.

 

The Chairman also extended a warm welcome to guests and Officers including: Andrew Westwood, KCC Transport Manager; Amelia Yeodal, Highways England M25 Network Performance Manager; Scott Wilson Highways England Communications Officer; Ian Kennard, Connect Plus M25 Route Performance Manager; David Cook Connect Plus Operations & Maintenance Manager Dartford; Supt. Ian Hall and Inspector Gary Woodward from Kent Police.

 

Attending Officers included Sheri Green SD (ES), Tania Smith Infrastructure Delivery Officer (IDO) and the Transport Services Manager Lewis Boudville.

 

The Chairman expressed his gratitude to Member Services for organising proceedings in the unexpected absence of the Clerk to the Board.

56.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any).

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

57.

Traffic Congestion in Dartford

In view of the significant interest in this matter the Chairman, Councillor Keith Kelly decided that a special meeting be convened to consider the following issues.

 

·         The events of the 8th of February, why it was necessary to close the QEII Bridge

 

·         Traffic congestion in Dartford generally, arising from delays at the crossing. 

 

·         Measures introduced / proposed to reduce levels and frequency of such congestion.  

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that Members would receive an initial presentation from Connect Plus, the operator for the Dartford Crossing on their decision to close the QEII Bridge on 8 February 2016 due to high winds followed by a Q&A session. Kent County Council and Highways England would then give a further separate presentation entitled Dartford Local Network Improvements, followed by a separate Q&A session.

 

(i)            Dartford Crossing: QEII Bridge closure 8th February 2016

 

David Cook, Dartford Operations & Maintenance Manager for Connect Plus, the operator for the Dartford Crossing, covered the following major points in his presentation to Members:

 

·         The QEII Bridge is an exposed structure with a roadway height of some 60m. In the event of high winds in excess of 60mph (crosswinds) or 70mph (headwinds) Connect Plus as the Bridge operator closes the structure for the safety of road users in accordance with a published protocol;

·         Connect Plus made their decision to implement the Protocol on 8 February and close the QEII Bridge based on forecast data from the Met Office and actual wind speeds and direction as measured on the Bridge in accordance with the published terms of the protocol;

·         The Protocol for strong winds involved 3 stages: Stage 1 an advisory speed limit of 30mph was issued based on 50mph crosswinds and 60mph headwinds; Stage 2 involved closing 2 of the 4 lanes when winds reached 55mph and 65mph for cross and head winds respectively; Stage 3 – full closure implemented from on-site monitoring of 60mph and 70mph for cross and head winds respectively combined with Met Office forecasting;

·         In the event of full closure of the QEII Bridge alternative traffic arrangements are implemented: Southbound traffic is diverted through the East tunnel and Northbound traffic continues to use the West tunnel to ensure traffic can continue to move safely albeit at a reduced capacity;

·         Highways England informs road users when the QEII Bridge is closed using VMS signing covering the South East region, informing the media and travel media with updates on Twitter advising road users to plan their journeys around the Bridge closure and allow extra travel time;

·         Following closure of the Bridge Connect Plus/Highways England hold an internal de-brief, plus separate de-briefs with Kent and Essex Police;

·         Future measures being undertaken by Connect Plus (as operator) was a review of the closure forecast modelling with the Met Office, initiatives to improve the deployment and removal of QEII Bridge procedures and the improvement of customer communication.

 

Members were then taken through the specific sequence and timing of the operational actions undertaken by Connect Plus management and staff on 8 February leading up to the final closure of the QEII Bridge.

 

 

The Chairman thanked Connect Plus and Highways England representatives for a comprehensive presentation. He acknowledged the need for a reasonable and proper traffic management process to be in place in the event of extreme weather conditions affecting the Dartford Crossing and the need to consider closing the QEII Bridge when circumstances dictated. However,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.