Thursday, 9 March 2017

Are AI’s B3174 Exeter Road traffic count figures fictitious?

Apparently in January 2016, Aggregate Industries' consultants performed a one week Automatic Traffic Count on the B3174 outside Little Straitgate. No one locally noticed it, which is surprising given the interest in the matter, given that many of us use that road every day, given that just two months previously various members of the public alerted us to an ATC just a short way further down the road.

So, are AI’s B3174 traffic count figures fictitious? We ask the question because we have the results of the ATC commissioned by Highways England, performed 13-26 November 2015. Their results bear NO relation to AI's numbers.

According to AI's consultants D M Mason Engineering Consultants Ltd:
9.11 The B3174 Exeter Road carries 4,272 vehicles per day [5-Day Av 24 hour flow]
According to Highways England, the B3174 Exeter Road carried 6,634 vehicles in week 1 of their survey (5 day average, 24 hour flow) and 6,936 in week 2; a staggering 59% more traffic than AI claims.

The weekday 2-way counts from AI's 'survey' are: 4342, 4225, 4419, 4182, 4190. The equivalent ones from Highways England are: 6425, 6595, 6582, 6845, 6722, 6655, 7010, 7194, 7187, 6633.

Here are some screenshots from the Highways England results:

AI's report doesn't tell us the company that performed its 'count'. Perhaps the figures were taken from another road? Perhaps they were plucked from thin air? It does seem strange that AI would expense a 7 day ATC for this road six weeks before pulling its previous application.

D M Mason concludes:
10.13 The B3174 Exeter Road carries 4,272 vehicles per day. The increase in traffic will be 4.7%. It is generally considered that increases in traffic flows of below 5% generated by development is not material. The increase in traffic flows on the B3174 from the Straitgate Farm proposals is not material.
The Highways England data shows 80 class 5-12 vehicles a day [3 axle truck or above] in week 1, and 73 a day in week 2. AI's new plans propose 172 HGV movements a day, although "The Straitgate Farm proposal has been tested for 200 trips per day 10.11"; 172 would represent a 225% increase in class 5-12 vehicles. Most people would regard that as material.

It's normal for a Transport Assessment to massage down the impact. But in this case, AI’s figures are so unreal, you wonder what you can trust from the rest of this report. Anything at all?