Black and White paint being mixed to make grey
In 2006, prompted by residents’ concerns about the level and speed of HGV traffic on Crown Lane, Horwich, Bolton Council instigated an experimental weight limit on Crown Lane coupled with two sets of congestion creating, sorry ‘traffic calming’ chicanes.
Fortunately, six months later after causing long queues on Crown Lane, the chicanes were removed, however the experimental weight limit was made a permanent order (shown in red on the map below).
View Crown Lane/Vale Avenue Weight Limits in a larger map
The effectiveness of this weight restriction has in reality been rather limited and has unfortunately had an unintended side effect.
In 2007 at the time of the review of the experimental limit, two of the firms on Crown Lane who use HGVs, objected to the weight limit. Bolton Council quite rightly pointed out that the limit would not affect them as it only restricted through traffic. Access to premises on Crown Lane is still permitted, and here’s the first issue – The majority of the HGV traffic that uses Crown Lane, does so to access premises on Crown Lane and has not been reduced by the weight limit being imposed. There was very little through traffic to remove.
The existence of this limit has also had a side effect. Prior to the introduction of the weight limit on Crown Lane there was a pre-existing limit on Mason Street/Vale Avenue (shown in blue on the map above). The addition of the newer limit on Crown Lane has effectively created a larger limit which has merged with that on Vale Avenue. Although technically two separate limits, I have noticed an increase in HGVs using Mason Street/Vale Avenue to access premises on Crown Lane. Bolton Council state that “Enforcement of weight limits is a matter for the police. However, the police have limited resources to enforce this type of restriction”. Even if the police do stop a HGV driver on Vale Avenue, he can innocently claim that his destination is within the extent of the weight limit.
From the map above, it is clear that the businesses that are the origin and destination of the HGV traffic (shaded yellow) are all at the SW end of Crown Lane/Station Road. If the Council’s intention really was to limit the amount of HGV traffic on Crown Lane, then they should have restricted the weight limit to north of Vale Avenue. That would have been extremely effective at cutting HGV traffic past the residential properties on Crown Lane but would have meant HGVs travelling ‘the long way round’ via the narrow Blackrod Station railway bridge, the A6, De Havilland Way and Chorley New Road, adding to congestion on that route.
Crown Lane is after all a classified road (the B5238), intended to link Horwich to Blackrod. Unlike Mason Street/Vale Avenue, it is not a minor road being used as a rat-run; at the same time I sympathise with Crown Lane residents as it was not built to handle the traffic from the over-development (both commercial and residential) at the southern end of Crown Lane/Station Road.
I do not feel that the limit on Crown Lane achieves any material benefit; the vast majority of HGV traffic using Crown Lane is legally exempt and the existence of the limit undermines the effectiveness of the previously existing limit on Vale Avenue/Mason Street.