We’re pleased to report that Highways England have postponed the closure of the Farlington Marshes shared use path. It appears that they have belatedly recognised that the diversion proposed by their contractor, Keir Construction, was unacceptable.
We reported on the proposed closure four weeks ago and found that it was both dangerous and unpleasant. The many hazards and choke-points meant it would be wholly unsuited to both the volume and variety of users the Farlington Marshes path attracts.
We understand that as well as our objection Highways England came under pressure from both Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council to act. The closure has been postponed, rather than cancelled, whilst a better diversion is worked out. We await details of that with interest.
Noting the challenge of finding a better route it may be that it would be more appropriate to re-plan the scheduled work so that a complete closure can be avoided all together. However, in light of the safety issues that were missed in the design of the original diversion we ask that any future diversion be informed by a formally conducted independent road safety audit.
The path, which is extremely popular with cyclists and walkers, is unusual in being maintained by the national highways agency. Even though the path connects Portsmouth and Havant neither local authority has direct control over it because it runs alongside a national trunk road. This gives Highways England responsibility, despite their lack of interest or expertise in cycling and their lack of local knowledge.
In addition to our report, we have now recorded videos of the diversion route from both directions so it can be seen more clearly what the issues are. These can be found on our new YouTube Channel, with links below:
Eastbound Diversion: https://youtu.be/xcaNkkBMScw
Westbound Diversion: https://youtu.be/GmF0Uc4VWmU