Car ban considered for St Albans’ St Peter’s Street
CITY centre traders have been briefed on options to ease traffic congestion – including restricting cars from St Peter’s Street during the day from Monday to Saturday.
As the Herts Advertiser revealed at the time Herts Highways were carrying out improvement works on St Peter’s Street, the district council has been considering the closure of the road to private vehicles and modelling work is now going on to try and work out where the displaced traffic will go.
The modelling work has revealed already that there would be positive benefits for buses if the main street through the city centre was closed to cars.
But traders at the informal meeting were told that closing St Peter’s Street to general traffic during the day would be just one of a possible packet of measures which would contribute to an overall congestion, pollution and emissions solution.
Among the measures being proposed are improved bus transport, metro-style bus routes on arterial city routes, mini park-and-ride sites, walking and cycling schemes including a green ring around the city and measures to encourage electric vehicles.
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The council wanted to meet the traders informally before any further work takes place to make sure their views were taken into account as proposals – which are due to be put forward for public consultation in the summer – are developed.
Council leader, Cllr Robert Donald, said: “The public have consistently told us in surveys that we need to tackle traffic congestion in St Albans city centre.
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“On top of this we now have air quality problems around the Peahen junction which have reached levels exceeding Government limits.
“We also need to take some radical steps locally if we are to meet our carbon footprint reduction targets.
“The great advantage of these proposals is that they will not only achieve improvements to all three of these problems but they will also create a more inviting environment for shoppers, residents and visitors to enjoy and benefit the district’s future prosperity and local economy.”
Cllr Donald said that the bus companies and others had told the council that during previous periods when St Peter’s Street was closed for Herts Highways improvement works, their circulation around the city centre had improved.
He pointed out that the council’s own research had shown that footfall in the city centre at those times was not adversely affected and in fact some of the larger stores had said their business was better.
He went on: “This is the experience of retailers in a number of other cities where traffic is restricted for part of the day in favour of pedestrians.”
Cllr Donald accepted that while many people would welcome the proposals, not everyone would agree and said that was why he felt the meeting was important to get the views of retailers and build in flexibility to the proposals where they could.
He added: “A public consultation on final proposals will be held over the summer and, if introduced, any scheme would be the subject of a pilot project.
“We have to start tackling the major congestion and pollution problems in our city centre and that is what these various measures will help us achieve.”
There still has to be further analysis of the modelling by Herts Highways and improvements to key junctions this spring before the summer’s public consultation.
Should the plans come to fruition, a pilot scheme of up to 18 months duration would be introduced early next year.