Whyke residents claim new A27 footbridge is ‘isolated’

Geoff King and Alan Carn at the Whyke Road junction          PICTURE BY KATE SHEMILT C150026-2
Geoff King and Alan Carn at the Whyke Road junction PICTURE BY KATE SHEMILT C150026-2

A ‘WONDERFUL’ new footbridge will not make life safer for pedestrians if other work is not done, residents have claimed.

Geoff King and Alan Carn, of the Whyke Residents’ Association, said they were calling on West Sussex County Council to get footpaths in the area up to standard to allow people to access the A27 footbridge safely.

“What we have here is a footbridge everybody will want to use,” said Mr King

“It’s the duty of the county council to ensure when that footbridge opens, there’s a safe way to get there and back from it.”

Earlier this year, the Highways Agency announced plans to build the pedestrian footbridge over the A27, close to the Whyke roundabout.

Building work has started this week on the bridge, with 50mph speed limits in place, and it is due to be ready in July.

Mr King said either side of the bridge, there were not enough footpaths for people to safely access the bridge.

“There’s a significant gap between the completion of this footbridge and pathways being satisfactorily linked to the south,” he said.

He added that to the north, residents had real difficulties trying to cross the busy Whyke Road and A27 junction.

“You have to negotiate at a point where there’s a 30mph sign with traffic coming quickly off a carriageway,” he said, adding the council had plans to improve cycle routes in the area, however he did not believe this was due to happen until 2016.

“What we’re saying is this. The county council have a duty of responsibility and we want to make sure they do 
it right.

“You can’t have a gap between the completion of this wonderful new footbridge and a safe route for people.”

He said most people would want to get to the bridge via Whyke Road, rather than taking any alternative routes.

“Once that footbridge is open, the whole of the Manhood Peninsula is open,” he said.

“The important thing is this – the footbridge has been isolated. The Highways Agency and building people are doing exactly what they’ve been asked to do. They will provide us with a lovely bridge. The county council have got to step up now and get it right.”

The Observer did contact the county council, but received no response by the time of going to press.

A spokesman from West Sussex County Council said: “We intend the shared use pedestrian/cycle path to link the Highways Agency’s footbridge at Whyke Roundabout with the south of the A27.

“This scheme is currently scheduled for 2016/17 and involves the widening of an existing footpath.

“The feasibility designs we’ve done showed we needed third party land in order to deliver the proposed scheme. We are about to start discussions on the acquisition of this land, which takes time.

“The concern about pathways to allow residents from Whyke Rd to access the footbridge safely has been brought to our attention only recently. While it represents a change to the scope of the scheme, we are happy to work with the community via the county local committee to solve the problem.”