Members of the Labour group on Bridgwater Town Council met with EDF spokesman David Eccles yesterday to find out more about plans for roadworks on the Taunton road/ Broadway junction due to start in January and which could last for a year but bring very little change. EDF Energy will start work at the junction of Taunton Road and Broadway in January. The aim of the works is to increase the junction’s capacity, improve traffic flow and make it safer and easier for pedestrians and cyclists. The work is part of the agreed schedule of improvements required for the construction of Hinkley Point C.
David Eccles, EDF , said “The improvements at this cross roads will be complete within a year. All the traffic lights will be upgraded, the junctions will be adjusted and crossing points for cyclists and pedestrians improved. The new lights will interact with other lights in the town improving drivers’ journeys through Bridgwater.The works form part of a £16 million package of road improvement schemes being delivered by EDF Energy in Somerset to keep traffic flowing and has been carefully planned with local councils to minimise inconvenience as much as possible. New electronic motorway-style messaging boards will also become operational around Bridgwater in the New Year to help keep motorists better informed.“
However, councillors were not happy and told Mr Eccles this angrily at the meeting . Westover Town and District councillor Brian Smedley said “Taunton road is already a ridiculously busy road which is often at a standstill and the proposed works will be exactly where the A38 and A39 cross and where people enter and exit the town centre. The proposals will close a main artery – by putting the works compound ON the Taunton road section as it joins St Mary street and traffic which you are trying to divert down Old Taunton road (North section) along Broadway back to Cross Rifles roundabout and then back up the Broadway will instead simply use Friarn street and feed into the chaos on Broadway at the Morrisons junction.“
Westover councillor and Town Mayor Steve Austen said “When this is finished can you tell us what benefits it will bring for all the aggravation caused, because I cant see any!?“
Mr Eccles continued “It’s true that for the next 12 months local people will know it’s going to be an absolute swine near the Taunton road/Broadway junction and that the benefits will seem minimal. However, these works will be undertaken in 8 phases clockwise around the interchange to keep traffic flowing throughout and will be completed within a year. This is just one of many road improvements we’re currently putting in place, as well as a new bypass for Cannington.”
Somerset county councillor for Bridgwater South, Leigh Redman said “Telling us about the Cannington By-Pass is not gaining you any friends as this is exactly what we wanted for Bridgwater but were told we couldn’t have one. The town centre has reached the point where we are approaching gridlock and in fact the only solution now is to re-look at a by-pass option and I will be urging members to support that position.“
A By-Pass would have prevented all this
Hamp Councillor Adrian Moore said “It will barely keep the status quo. The scoot system around the town doesn’t work properly as the light don‘t talk to each other and we have the opportunity now to combine getting a by-pass with a barrage and avoid all this.“
Cllr Austen chipped in “But that would of course require some joined up thinking…“
Members expressed further dissapointment that no-one from County had attended the meeting and noted that these works were only the next in a series of even bigger works elsewhere in the town at the behest of EDF in order to make their traffic flow and meet Planning Inspectorate guidelines.
Cllr Mick Lerry (Bridgwater Victoria) said “The purpose of spending money on these junction changes is supposed to provide a future legacy for Bridgwater but the information we are being given suggests there will be a lot of congestion and no great change.“
More information about these road improvements and the Hinkley Point C project is available at EDF Energy’s visitor centre in Angel Place Shopping Centre, Bridgwater, open between 9:30am and 4:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:30am to 1:00pm on Saturdays or Gordon Bell in EDF Energy’s press office on 01278 654535 or email firstname.lastname@example.org