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Deansgate Debacle: Why Block The Road?

Council says it'll stop through drivers, we think it's not them that will be hit

Written by . Published on January 31st 2012.


Deansgate Debacle: Why Block The Road?

THE new pavement extension on Deansgate at the junction with Quay Street is causing concern among Confidential readers.

This seems another needless hindrance to enjoyment of the city that responds to an old strategy out  of sync with 2012. That little lump out from the pavement on Deansgate shows we need a re-think. 

It narrows the street pushing traffic into one carriageway on the north side of the junction for people coming into the city from Chester Road.

At the same time people driving in from the south now have only one lane option remaining when either going straight down Deansgate or turning right into Peter Street. The other lane is now for those turning left down Quay Street and thus joining the inner ring road at Trinity Way. 

Queue up for straight on or right on a single laneCars queuing up one one carriageway

Confidential took the pictures below, just after 11am, of a lorry turning right into Peter Street, blocking all the vehicles behind it that wanted to go straight down Deansgate.

This meant one car nipped to the left and swerved round the lorry before chicaning on to Deansgate. Not good.

Only three vehicles managed to get through the junction, including the lorry before the lights changed. And this was at the quietest time of the day. It's going to be a problem hotspot this junction breeding short tempers. 

Lorry turns right, blocking street behindLorry turns right, blocking street behind

Car nips round the lorry - three vehicles get through including the lorry before light changeCar nips round the lorry - three vehicles get through including the lorry before the lights change

So what does the council say about this situation they've created.?

A spokesperson said, "The works at the junction of Deansgate and Quay Street are intended to encourage motorists to use the inner ring road, instead of driving through the city centre when this is unnecessary. This is part of the council's overall transport strategy of improving traffic flow and making it easier for people to access the city centre."  

Seems reasonable enough.

But we think it's missing a huge point and works in reverse. In a time of cuts we think it's a waste of money.

We think this won't affect through drivers very much at all because most of them who are savvy about Manchester will be going down the ring road already.

No, who this affects are the people it's supposed to help.

Narrowing roads - look at the nightmare on Chapel Street over the river in Salford - hits those who are actively using the city centre. It hits people who work here, the residents, the shoppers, those who want to go out at night. 

And the evidence?

This is a picture of Deansgate at just after 11am on a Tuesday morning when residents, city centre workers, and shoppers are least likely to be present on city centre streets. So by the council's logic Deansgate should be carrying people using the street to get from one side of the city to the other - through drivers. But look there are hardly any cars at all. 

Empty Deansgate - where are the through drivers?Empty Deansgate - where are the through drivers?

So what this new impediment to movement will do is increase congestion at peak times when people are coming to or leaving work in the city centre or when people are coming in to shop, dine, be entertained and so forth at busy times of the weekend.

The times are changing, central urban areas are being affected by changes in the retailing culture, the digital age is thowing up new challenges all the time. 

The council clearly think the expense of narrowing the pavement here is a good idea. They are doing it with the best intentions but we think the results will be the opposite to what they want to achieve. 

At House of Fraser, where Deansgate has been narrowed for a decade it's a running nightmare for traffic with delays and problems - so taxis and those in the know use Parsonage Gardens as a rat run. 

The work on Deansgate may seem trivial. But it is another needless hindrance to enjoyment of the city - we need as many people as we can getting into the centre in as comfortable a manner as possible. This little lump out from the pavement responds to an old strategy out of sync with 2012, it demonstrates how we need a transport re-think in the city centre. 

If you have a backyard issue or story you'd like us to look at, big or small, email the editor of Manchester Confidential, Jonathan Schofield at jonathans@theconfidentials.co.uk You can follow Jonathan Schofield on @JonathSchofield

MORE INFORMATION - added after the story above was posted. 

In the first or second week of March the Victoria Street end of Deansgate, in front of the Cathedral, will close (the bit that leads to Bury New Road) and traffic will be diverted over Victoria Bridge onto Chapel Street in Salford and then back over another bridge to turn left under the rail lines to the old Boddington's site and Trinity Way. 

Traffic chaos on match nightTraffic chaos on match nightThe idea is to turn the whole area around the Cathedral into a pedestrianised area - so the whole 'medieval' centre can better be enjoyed on foot. A good idea perhaps but maybe not when considering the difficulties for cars and buses to access the west side of the city centre this will cause.

At the same time another hindrance to movement on Deansgate has been placed at the Liverpool Road junction. On Tuesday 31 January this magnified the difficulties with congestion usually encountered during an evening game with United.

If there should be works or an incident on any of the surrounding streets during match night or before a big Arena date then this will be repeated but with even more pronounced effects.

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74 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

The City Engineers must have a lot of time on their hands if ridiculous tinkering like this is absolutely necessary and, gets funded. Still, it's all part of the unspoken grand plan to make Manchester traffic free, an absolute pain visit by car, and drive all retail trade out to the Trafford Centre and restaurant trade to the suburbs.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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Hero
JeffJanuary 31st 2012.

Looks like they're doing something similar at the junction with Liverpool Rd on Deansgate too

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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Peter BirdJanuary 31st 2012.

Take at look at Chapel Street by Victoria Bridge and the chaos already caused by the reduction of one lane opposite the M.E.N. Arena as you attempt to leave the city heading up Bury New Road. And they have added a bus bay with no bus stop and a parking bay with double yellow lines. Bravo

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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JS3January 31st 2012.

If they were made no right turn junctions it wouldn't be such a bad idea, however they all are! They've done this on Deansgate/Victoria Street heading out of town next to the MEN, this makes absolutely no sense and just causes queues.

The ring road is bloody useless if there's even a little traffic, the worst bit being where the Mancunian Way meets Trinity Way and Regent Road, a ridiculous bottle neck and an almost constant traffic jam. Might want to sort out the ring road before pushing more motorists toward it MCC!

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

that junction with Peter St needs a definite rethink if the inside lane is no longer available to pass anything turning right (which as illustrated above, is typically a large HGV and usually at the head of the traffic). blocking the rest of the traffic like this is bound to lead to more congestion... although I'd imagine most drivers - myself included here - will probably resort to nipping down and across that inside lane anyway.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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BAJanuary 31st 2012.

Ah, the classic "reduce congestion by narrowing the road" solution. Absolute nonsense, and it's practiced all over Manchester where already busy roads are narrowed to create "Quality Bus Corridors" and the like (Barlow Moor Rd in Chorlton as an example).

Is the real plan to create congestion hotspots, thereby justifying a fresh call for congestion charging or as an excuse to further increase on-steet parking charges by blaming the jams on too many people driving into the city?

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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Stephen DouglasJanuary 31st 2012.

I'm guessing those responsible haven't tried to use the Great Ancoats St part of the ring road recently.

I often need to go from my flat on Whitworth St West to the Royal Mail depot on Oldham Road before work, it takes half the time to take Portland Street than it does going round the ring road. And that's during rush hour!

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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the Whalley RangerJanuary 31st 2012.

I don't know what the problem is. I never used to be able to use Deansgate to get from South to North, no matter what time of the day - now I use it all the time (off peak, of course). It works.

Thank you council for directing the traffic jams to the ring roads - where they belong.

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AnonymousFebruary 12th 2012.

I'm sure 'It works' for those who have the luxury to use it off peak. For city centre residents wanting to leave at morning peak time & return in the evening it will be a nightmare.
Traffic jams don't belong anywhere and indeed wouldn't be if this council provided decent public transport & sorted out the Mancunian Way/Ring Road junction.

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

I can't believe the temerity of some motorists, thinking they can drive their cars down roads.

I mean, who do they think they are?

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

Irrelevant comparison to the Chapel Street works in the article which are a tool to aid long term regeneration in Salford (and a thoroughly good idea) rather than manage traffic flow as here.

I am not a fan of the principle of making it harder for cars to access or even travel through the city centre. Most of pedestrian areas and main city streets are already positive and functioning environments for the pedestrian. and business. Traffic flow adds life and vitality without necessarily detracting from the environment - its only where the road and traffic is the dominant feature in the landscape where it becomes a problem.

MCC trying to fix something that isn't broken in my opinion.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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Ms AnonApril 6th 2013.

I live on Victoria Bridge Street and have done for over a decade. The regeneration of Salford shouldn't include turning a one-way street that runs over a bridge with low-weight capacity. The build-up of traffic now that we have been "re-zoned" as the end of Deansgate is beyond idiotic and MCC should be ashamed of not informing us about this before they went ahead and made the changes. The traffic is so bad we can't even get fire engines to our building in a timely fashion anymore, no one wants to provide deliveries to the building, taxis won't pick you up and when its rush hour plus a concert at the MEN its total gridlock. All of this is made worse by EVERYONE ignoring the "no right turn" at the junction with Chapel Street and HGV's using our road as a short cut for city centre deliveries. So if this is regeneration then MCC has gone mad!

Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 31st 2012.

Just had a sniff of something. In the first or second weeks of March the Victoria Street end of Deansgate, in front of the Cathedral, will close (the bit that leads to Bury New Road) and traffic will be diverted over Victoria Bridge onto Chapel Street in Salford and then back over another bridge to turn left under the rail lines to the old Boddington's site and Trinity Way.

It's all an aspirational idea but not how the world is - even with the notion of a return to a walk around version of the medieval pedestrian town in the old medieval area of the city around the Cathedral.

If everybody lived in walking distance of the city centre then fine, but if you live a distance away - as most of the people who use the city centre do - then you will use road/rail transport of one form or another.

One model of city life does not fit all. Our city has its own way of functioning. Let's establish what ours is before we make potentially harmful changes.

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AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

I thought two cicanes in a ring road was daft but three is stupid ,why can't they help by sorting out Regent Road, it can't be that hard

V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

So they block off Deansgate to encourage through traffic to use Trinity Way at the same time start digging up Trinty Way up at Hampson St ,and they say we are paranoid for thinking they do it on purpose

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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the Whalley RangerJanuary 31st 2012.

I recommend this link for novices to the subject - great references are made to the public transport aspect of cities:

http://urbanizedfilm.com/stream/

This documentary was publically screened at the Deaf Institute about a week and a half ago...

UnaPlannerJanuary 31st 2012.

Perhaps the real reason there is political opposition to a directly elected Mayor is that a pro-motorist candidate would probably get in with a landslide?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Not their thereJanuary 31st 2012.

Which leads us to Boris who is single handedly killing off years of growth in cycling as a serious alternative with his free traffic flow initiatives and dangerous half hearted and poorly designed cycle routes.

V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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Road ratJanuary 31st 2012.

I've been digging - so to speak - on this as well. This is the result of my enquiries. This is what the Council said:

'The initial works, which widened the footway, were undertaken by Manchester City Council, and have been designed to discourage through traffic from travelling
along Deansgate. The scheme is designed to ensure that this traffic is routed around the City Centre using the Inner Relief Route. The works forms part of the
‘Transport Strategy for the Regional Centre’. These works were undertaken off peak to minimise traffic disruption.Further works are also to be undertaken along
the length of Deansgate to support this strategy including the closure of Victoria St.

The works currently taking place at this location are National Grid (Gas) works, these are required to repair and replace a damaged gas main. I would confirm that
the Council are liaising closely with National Grid regarding these essential works, in an effort to reduce the disruption they are causing.

In terms of the traffic conditions it should noted that:

1. The traffic flows at this time of year are at the heaviest, particularly in Manchester city centre.

2. There have been and continue to be roadwork at the junction of Great Ducie Street – Trinity Way – Higher Bridge Street. Therfore congestion would have
been increased even if the junction design hadn’t taken place.

3. The traffic signals timing at the junction are very closely monitored by CCTV and we are endeavouring to ensure the junction works as well as it possibly
can do – with the caveat that we need to favour the IRR.

4. The traffic flows from Victoria Bridge to Straneways will be reduced once the closure of Victoria St between Victoria Bridge and Chapel St
will become operative in the New Year.

5. The other big problem from a capacity perspective is that the double right turn from Great Ducie St has not been lined yet due to the roadwork on the exit
into Trinity Way.

By keeping traffic away from the city centre we reduce air pollution levels in the City to within the government National Air Quality Objectives, improving local people's
health and well being.'

So I think the council are saying let's kill the city centre - as long as we have clean air for nobody to breathe eh?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
CobbydalerJanuary 31st 2012.

If they close Victoria St between Victoria Bridge & Chapel St, how will people be able to use the Exchange Station car park? Or is this another ruse to force more people to park on street?

V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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funboi123January 31st 2012.

I too did some homework on this, when they first started the ridicule of extending the footpath/ decreasing the road outside the Lightshop/ Lightstore whatever beside the Arena. Here's how it went:

Thank you so much for taking the time to contact us.

As requested, the reason for the build out is to narrow Great Ducie Street to promote the reduction of traffic travelling to and from Deansgate,
encouraging them to turn onto the Inner Ring Road to reach their destination. These forms part of the Councils City Centre transport strategy.
This includes an aspiration to reduce the levels of through traffic which is currently travelling along Deansgate rather than using the inner relief route.

By keeping traffic away from the city centre we reduce air pollution levels in the City to within the government National Air Quality Objectives, improving
local people's health and well being.

Thank you so much again for taking the time and trouble to write to us and I offer my sincere apologies for any apparent disappointment you have experienced.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: we've removed the address and name of the official at the bottom of the document pasted into this rant as he had not been asked whether it should be made public.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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funboi123January 31st 2012.

I replied on 28/11/2011 questioning the madness or if theres an appeal process. Im still awaiting the response.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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JS3January 31st 2012.

Surely they should be promoting the use of Trinity Way as it's essentially part of the ring road, rather than making it more difficult to get on to and away from the city? Or am I mad?

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

Strange , in most cases with modern cars the air comming out of them is cleaner than the air going in ,it would be cheaper for the goverment to buy us all a Volvo

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Man in a shedJanuary 31st 2012.

Leave your car engine running in the garage for an hour and let me know how you get on.

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

We tried to put a cold wet shivering mouse out of its misery in a bag connected to an exhaust with a catalytic converter ,ten mins later we opened the bag and it took off like Ben Johnson on speed,its now the proud parent of hundreds of 'em

the Whalley RangerJanuary 31st 2012.

Sorry, but I support this concept.

City centre living: free bus, walk and cycle
Inner Ring living: bus, tram, cycle
Outer ring living: train, tram. cars: park'n'ride at boundary

My recent trip to Hamburg (similar size conurbation, much larger centre) shows how it could be done. The train/ subway/ bus infrastructure there is AMAZING!

Blair: Education Education Education

Cameron: Infrastructure Infrastructure Infrastructure

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

Do the trains and trams run on time,do the cyclist obey the traffic signals , are the buses and subways safe and are the pavements clean and well maintained.

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

anon - should do if not make 'em

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2012.

City centre living, work outside Ashton-under-Lyne. Monthly rail season ticket £77.20. Bus to workplace £2.00 each way (no return available). Monthly cost £157.20. Any wonder people use their car?

TramanJanuary 31st 2012.

But Whalley Range we aren't Germany. Neat, tidy, ordered, obedient...too much occasionally. We are British, messier but slightly freer and more anarchic. What we shouldn't be is stupid though and cut off our nose to spite our face. These transport measures are us looking too I fon't know Holland, rather than trying to find solutions our own way. We are not one common culture.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
the Whalley RangerJanuary 31st 2012.

What has obedience got to do with pubic transport?

I could have said look at Brazil, or the Czech Republic - all have far better buses than we have.

Do Brazilians honour (obediently) an aristocratic hierarchy?

the Whalley RangerJanuary 31st 2012.

pubic public hahaha

NorwegianJanuary 31st 2012.

Slightly freer?

You have got CCTV everywhere and it still doesn't stop riots!

Maybe there is a fundamental error in your assumption...

AnonymousJanuary 31st 2012.

I feel that, as a city, Manchester is quite easy to drive around or through, even with all the eternal roadworks that seem to be going on. I used to live in London where, as part of my job, I was required every so often to drive across the West End; now that is a stressful and frustrating experience. Londoners are, however, much less reliant on their cars, even when travelling far greater distances than is required in a city like Manchester. At the moment I use a combination of driving and cycling, but I would be more than happy to use public transport if the city managed to offer more buses and more trams in a cheaper, more integrated network. I think if Manchester wants to keep growing then it needs to invest a lot more in its public transport rather than in maintaining the city's love affair with the car. And I certainly don't think Manchester will cease to be attractive to investment and the public because it is less pro-car. Not everyone enjoys an experience like the Trafford Centre. I also think the inner and outer ringroads have done terrible things to the cohesion and feel of Manchester and Salford, not to mention the damage inflicted on the communities that have found their areas razed for those ringroads. It's no wonder a pub like the Blackfriar on Trinity Way closed down - who wants to frequent a pub on the edge of that?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Stephen PughJanuary 31st 2012.

The Blackfriar was closed long before Trinity Way opened. I have lived in the area for 30 years and it never had any investement in the 20 years prior to the opening of the ring road.
I would agree though that more public transport needs to be improved in this City, however that improvement is not achieved by making it more difficult for other road users.
Cycling on the roads in Manchester and Salford is like running the gauntlet, and at 55 years old, I dont want to put my life at risk! More grade seperated cycle lanes please.

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

Trouble is transport investment per person is heavily skewed towards London. For example London's buses are regulated and heavily subsidised. Everywhere else they are de-regulated with only meagre subsidy for a handful of uncommercial routes.

AnonymousFebruary 1st 2012.

It's the first phase of the plan towards making fewer cars use Deansgate, in order to pedestrianise Victoria Street at the top end of Deansgate at Greengate / in front of the Cathedral. Small time pain for long term gain. A quick Google for “Manchester Medieval Quarter” reveals all…

Rob MortimerFebruary 1st 2012.

People drive terribly at that junction. Everyday you see people stuck in the box area while the pedestrian lights are on, people cutting across lanes etc.

I'd much rather the council spent some cash installing a pedestrian crossing further towards Oxford road where traffic comes in from three directions with no notification of when it's safe to cross.

Nusret AhmedFebruary 1st 2012.

can somebody please do somthing about this whole mess. where europe looks to ease congestion and invests in widening its roads, we in Manchester continue to stick unnenecessary, dangerous, traffic blockers everywhere... Deansgate, Trinity Way, Stretford Road, what for? and Ancoats has never been free of roadworks and diggers.... that money could be used to support struggling businesses, cleaning up the city centre, and encouraging more businesses to set up in its vast compound of empty, derelict buildiongs.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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Calum McGFebruary 1st 2012.

I can see what's going on. Close off the traffic on Deansgate so we can bring back the trams...! Oh, balls. We lost that fight. Forgot about that.

Nikki GFebruary 1st 2012.

can we have a horse and carriage lane instead..... that would make it pedestrian friendly in Manchester.....?

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CjtFebruary 1st 2012.

I used to drive into Manchester City Centre from Westhoughton fairly often in the evenings and weekends for dinning, theatre, cinema and shopping.
I have tried the train a few times, I only live 5 minutes walk from the station so it seems like a good idea in theory. However the trains are often cancelled or delayed, when they are every hour this is irritating to put it mildly. The last time I decided to use the train, there were engineering works so I had to catch a bus to Bolton and then a train to Manchester which took about an hour! It only takes 20 mins to drive. Coming home is even worse as it’s full of unruly drunken people.
It seems to me that public transport into Manchester from Westhoughton is hopeless. If I drive, which is quicker, I then have to pay a fortune for off peak car parking and get stuck in what I perceive to be traffic jams caused by initiatives that the council think are making things better. In summary I don’t often bother to go into the City Centre these days, it feels like more trouble than its worth. I go to The Trafford Centre instead its far easier and the parking is free but sadly it lacks the charms of Manchester City Centre.
I recently ventured into Manchester City Centre on a Sunday afternoon to have something to eat. I was surprised to see so many parking meters available. I soon realised it was because they are so costly even on a Sunday afternoon. I drove around for 15 mins trying to find a more reasonably priced alternative, which probably added to the congestion.
Come on Manchester City Council, I’m surely not the only person with this view. I love Manchester City Centre and all it has to offer but the transport and parking issue are literally driving me away.

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AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2012.

I agree

V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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Simon SmithFebruary 1st 2012.

Remember, we live in a city whose planners have given us one of the shoddiest and amateur tram systems going.

So why expect them to be any more competent when it comes to the roads?

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Calum McGFebruary 2nd 2012.

Exactly. The tram is utterly unreliable :(

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AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2012.

They are going to make manchester a Ghost Town as all
motorists will bypass travelling to the City. The council are
idiots - who is the supid person who thought of this ridiculous scheme. Businesses will close down to lack of
customers which will add to the already numbers of the
unemployed.

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AnonymousFebruary 6th 2012.

This is highway planning at its worst. The purpose behind Highways and network management is to keep traffic moving in a quick and efficient fashion. Sticking two fingers up and saying we'll stop you using the roads is poor planning and will have a few effects. The first is to increase the number of accidents or near misses at junctions like Quay Street/Deansgate/Peter Street. The second is to cause congestion on the Inner Ring Road, which at certain pinch points (Regent Road, Great Ancoats Street etc etc) are already AT capacity. It's all well and good doing this, but there is no alternative for motorists. Public Transport is overpriced, overcrowded and generally in disgraceful condition.
Frustrating drivers is the easiest way of driving people away from a city, preventing the very thing the council says it's trying to do; encourage people into the city centre.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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AnonymousFebruary 12th 2012.

It's obvious that there's been a campaign over many years to bully the motorist into avoiding Deansgate. Look at the number of traffic lights along it.
Absolutely no need for lights at the junction of St. Mary' Street or Victoria Bridge Street.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

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V EdwardsFebruary 23rd 2012.

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION AND FORWARD THE LINK TO ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO WILL BE EFFECTED BY THIS

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CobbydalerMarch 2nd 2012.

Victoria Street closing from Sunday for a 6 month 'trial' period. Bet it's permanent...
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-17230334…
Council booklet:
www.manchester.gov.uk/…/new_pedestrian_route_through_the_city_centre…

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