Plans are to be drawn up to improve the operation of Junction 8 of the M25, at the top of Reigate Hill.
At peak hours the light-controlled roundabout can get snarled up with slow-moving traffic struggling to leave the junction.
Highways England has carried out a study, looking at what can be done to improve both traffic flow and safety.
The findings pick up one of the biggest bugbears for motorists: the way the level crossing at Reigate station can lead to long queues of traffic on Reigate Hill, causing congestion all the way back onto the M25 junction.
Highways England thinks the solution could be to widen the road on Reigate Hill southbound, to provide two lanes to Reigate that wouldn’t merge until after the bend on the hill, with a slip lane to Gatton Bottom. This would mean an extra 65 vehicles could wait down the hill, relieving pressure on the roundabout.
Limited road space means that, coming up the hill, the northbound A217 would have to remain a single lane for longer before becoming two. However, at the top a third ‘flare’ lane would be added onto the roundabout, providing better lane options for each of the M25 west, A217 north and M25 east.
Motorists exiting Wray Lane / Gatton Bottom and wanting to turn north would have to cross the two lanes that would run south to Reigate instead of the present one. However, after that they would have an easier time of it, because alterations to the central reservation would mean joining the A217 northbound offside lane without conflicting with other traffic.
The roundabout itself would see changes, such as widening lanes to make it easier for large vehicles to pass one another. In addition, increasing the length of the flare onto the M25 west would allow it to accommodate more queing cars, again helping keep the junction clear.
Alterations are also being considered for the northern approach and exit of the roundabout – the A217 as it heads to/from Banstead. These include making the middle lane of the approach onto the roundabout “ahead only”, and changes to the timing of the lights.
On Monday last week, Thomas Whittingham of Highways England gave a high-level overview of the project to the Reigate & Banstead Local Committee, a Surrey County Council liaison group of county and borough councillors. Members had previously been sent paperwork about the scheme.
Mr Whittingham was optimistic that work might be completed as early as the 2018/19 financial year, but explained that no firm commitment could be given on the date, with the preliminary design only just starting.
Councillors’ questions included the possible use of yellow boxes to prevent traffic entering areas without a clear exit. However, Mr Whittingham confirmed that with these there was a problem of enforceability.
Councillors agreed to form a task group, which would assist and advise the full committee as Highways England develops its plans.
Mr Whittingham sent through information on the project to reigate.uk after the meeting, explaining that scheme benefits include a reduction in the chance of collisions, improved journey times, and decreased congestion. User satisfaction would also improve, as better lane markings would reduce confusion and the number of late lane changes.
He also added:
“Currently these proposals are only a study at the moment, and once the scheme goes to preliminary design the issues will be examined in more detail and addressed, along with more stakeholder liaison to establish further consent to the proposals.”
Local Committee agenda and decisions – item 10 (but no detail on the scheme)
Edited 17:45 20 Dec 2016