Mixed reactions as two Shropshire level crossings could be replaced by bridges
A plan to close a Shropshire level crossing and replace it with a bridge would be "win-win" for a town, a councillor has claimed.
Craven Arms Councillor David Evans has welcomed proposals in a Network Rail plan for 2019 to 2024, to replace the crossing at Long Lane with a bridge.
He said the idea, which still requires funding to go ahead, would allow business to develop, would open up land for housing, and would improve the traffic flow in the town.
However, a proposal to close Harlescott Crossing in Shrewsbury to traffic, and replace it with a footbridge for pedestrians, has been questioned by a traffic management expert.
The Network Rail report states that the Craven Arms plan would allow the expansion of Craven Arms Business Park.
It states that there are discussions taking place with Shropshire Council and a local business over funding the plan.
The report says: "Craven Arms level crossing is adjacent to the A49 with high traffic levels leading to an industrial estate. This will enable the expansion of the industrial park adjacent to the railway as part of the local development plan for the area.
"A vehicle bridge is required to replace the crossing and a nearby public footpath level crossing. Work is in partnership with Shropshire Council and local business user to match fund."
Councillor Evans said: "I think it would be win-win. It would be a boost for Craven Arms because there is land available for development in Watling Street and at the moment there are no takers, but if there was action with the Long Lane crossing it would create opportunities for business and would open up Watling Street for housing.
"It has been on the cards for a long time, since the old Shropshire District Council days. If we can get together and push, it could be a great achievement for Craven Arms. It would open up more land for business, more land for housing, and alleviate traffic problems on the A49."
The Network Rail report says the Shrewsbury proposal, which would also require extensive studies before being given the green light, could help make things better for drivers in the town.
It states: "The route is working with Shropshire Council to close the crossing as part of a wider scheme to improve traffic flows around the county town. This will require a pedestrian bridge to facilitate closure."
The report says that the closure would also improve safety.
However, Chris Oldham, who has worked in traffic management for 40 years, and was responsible for introducing park & ride to Shrewsbury, questioned how successful the proposal would be.
He said: "First of all with the closure of the crossing, the traffic has to go somewhere and the only two realistic alternative routes I can see are Mount Pleasant Road or the Battlefield Link Road. Mount Pleasant Road is pretty well saturated already and as any traffic manager or traffic planner would know, when you are close to saturation, it does not require many more vehicles to cause a massive increase in the queue lengths."
Mr Oldham said that introducing a bridge to replace the crossing would likely be prohibitively expensive.
Asked what would be the best solution he said: "For my mind, if you has no limit on your money it would be to put a bridge there."