Roundabouts revamp goes on hold
An aerial view of the new Wraxall Road roundabout near Kingswood,which is now open
PLANS to spend £30 million on changes to five roundabouts on the Avon Ring Road have been put on ice for at least a year.
South Gloucestershire Council says it is postponing a bid for government money for the scheme on the A4174, which includes road-widening, extra lanes and turning three more junctions into 'throughabouts', where onward ring road traffic can pass straight through.
The decision to put the scheme on hold was made in early November after 84 per cent of the 880 respondents to a 12-week public consultation disapproved of the idea.
It was made just a week after the reopening of Wraxall Road junction as a traffic light-controlled throughabout, where through traffic uses three lanes in each direction to drive through the middle of the junction, while vehicles making turns use a roundabout.
Residents have already branded the Wraxall Road junction, revamped at a cost of £6.9 million, “dangerous” and a “huge waste of money”.
An accident involving three vehicles, which saw two people taken to hospital, blocked the new junction two weeks after it opened, although it is not clear whether the design played any role in the crash.
The council had hoped the new junction would serve as a template for others on a five-mile stretch between the Lyde Green and Kingsfield roundabouts, to help tackle congestion and stop drivers using nearby neighbourhood roads as rat-runs. Three roundabouts were earmarked to become 'throughabouts': Siston Hill near Mangotsfield, Deanery Road near Warmley and Kingsfield, at Longwell Green.
Another two – Lyde Green roundabout, and the Rosary roundabout, by Emersons Green shopping centre – would have extra lanes added.
More traffic lights and entry lanes would have been installed and land at the edges of the ring road developed to provide the extra space.
But no dedicated bus lanes were proposed and the plans immediately came under fire from Labour Metro Mayor Dan Norris and Green local politicians who said it could end up generating more traffic.
The council said on November 2 that it had listened to residents’ feedback and would not be submitting its bid to Whitehall for the bigger project until at least late 2022.
It said people wanted more time to become familiar with the new junction, which would now be evaluated, and there were also concerns about the impact and disruption caused by three years of roadworks.
Cabinet member Steve Reade said: “We would like to thank all those who took part in our consultation and for their detailed feedback on this project.
“You have spoken and we have listened. We will not be submitting a funding bid at this time, but we will feed the comments received back into the proposals.
“Whilst pleased with the first few days’ operation of the new Wraxall Road throughabout scheme, we recognise it’s quite a big change for the area and people need time to become familiar with it. We will continue to monitor it to inform the wider project. There remains a strong case both economically and environmentally for junction improvements along the A4174.
“It is anticipated that, with no intervention, the congestion along the ring road and on adjacent roads will worsen in the years to come due to planned local growth."
Cllr Reade insisted that the paused scheme would "play a part in delivering" the council's climate emergency goals of reducing carbon emissions and encouraging more people to use sustainable transport options.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service