Dorking Town Traffic Congestion - how bad can it get?
Public domain documents from the Mole Valley District Council Local Committee show the results of a congestion study in Dorking. They show that traffic loads have been steadily rising over the past few years: 70% of traffic is associated with local activities in the town centre and 30% is passing through. On average 58% is travelling to work, 17% on school runs during peak times.
During peak times, West St sees a vehicle every 3 seconds, the High St every 5 seconds, and South St every 2 seconds! 16 thousand vehicles per day during the week pass through South St. with HGV/large vehicles contributing between 4 to 13% of the traffic.
The report states that "if left unchecked, traffic congestion will weaken the economic viability of Dorking and reduce the appeal to live and work in Dorking". The report concludes that "modelling has shown that there is no small scale solution to congestion in Dorking".
The scope of the congestion study included looking into articulated delivery vehicles to Sainsbury’s supermarket. Surprisingly, however, the results have not been published.
Of particular interest was the stated "possible solution to add traffic lights at the Mill Lane/High St junction, include a pedestrian phase in the traffic light sequence, and to close pedestrian crossing lights outside the old WH Smiths" to cater for a future development. This would involve 3 regular "red light" blockages to the High Street around every 10 minutes. For those people living and working in Dorking the consequences of traffic blockages (normally illegal parking) in the High Street are well known and easily back up towards Westcott and Brockham on the A25.
Air quality in Dorking and particularly West St has seen nitrogen dioxide level of 23ug per cubic metre in recent years (Source: EA and SurreyAir survey). This level is much higher than would be expected for a rural market town. This is mainly due to the Mole Valley geography, the funnelling effect of the high buildings in the streets, and of course the congestion.
The council seems to be set upon the Sainsbury's St. Martins development, based upon the careful crafted "Chinese walls" between Mole Valley’s Resource Dept (the property owner of St. Martins car park) and the Planning Dept (who will make the final decision); the demolition notification on Church Gardens; the advice to the police against further CCTV in the area due to a potential new development, and the creation of ‘Dorking Town Centre Ltd’ by the developer Thornfield/Royal Bank of Scotland. All of this before there are ANY PLANS, and before any public consultation. So how bad will congestion get in Dorking?
In these times of sustainable thinking and concern about climate change, isn't it time for some visionary thinking on this matter. Let’s improve, not destroy our lovely market town.