Trial closure of road before States debate on park plans
A TRIAL closure of a St Helier road which could be extinguished to create a new public space is to take place next week.
A proposal to connect Liberation Square and the Weighbridge has proved controversial since it was unveiled in December as part of plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation.
The scheme would remove the eastbound slip road from the Weighbridge towards the Tunnel as well as the westbound slip round from Route de la Libération to the Esplanade. The road will be closed for a trial period from 9am on Monday until Liberation Day on Thursday 9 May to investigate how this would affect traffic.
The trial closure comes ahead of a States vote on whether to scrap the scheme.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon called for the plans, which he had previously dubbed a ‘vanity project’ that could cost the Island £3 million, to be halted. His proposition is due to be debated in the States next month.
Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis proposed the trial closure in response, saying: ‘Following concerns raised after the proposals to create the public space were unveiled, I said I would make it a political undertaking to ensure there was a trial closure of the road to assess the impact on traffic and Islanders before the States debated whether to halt the Liberation 75 plans.’
Earlier this year the Jersey Chamber of Commerce called for a review of the project, which they said was ‘rushed through’ with little consultation. Andy Jéhan, chairman of the Chamber’s Transport and Tourism Committee, expected ‘significant delay, significant cost and impact on the environment’ if the scheme went ahead.
Chamber president Eliot Lincoln said that ‘giving the impression in a government press release that everyone is happy with these plans is, at best, disingenuous,’ following claims from Deputy Lewis that businesses in the area were ‘largely happy with what is proposed’.
Yesterday, in a letter to Deputy Lewis, Mr Lincoln requested clarification on how the minister would assess the change in traffic flow caused by the trial closure, and the criteria he would be using to assess if the road closure trial had been successful.
Mr Lincoln expressed his desire to avoid unclear and limited results that would make ‘good analysis and decisions impossible,’ ending the email by asserting that the Chamber felt the benefits of creating this new space were ‘massively outweighed’ by the negative impact the road closure would have on ‘businesses and individuals alike’.
While the eastbound slip road will be closed to all motor traffic under the trial, the westbound slip road will become temporarily bus only. During the trial closure, staff from the Growth, Housing and the Environment Department will be carrying out traffic surveys.