On 19th August , in response to widespread anger at the County Council’s changes to West Street crossroads, Westover councillor Brian Smedley wrote to County Highways supremo Harvey Siggs raising people’s concerns and asking him to address them.
The momentum of criticism was maintained with follow ups from Town Clerk Alan Hurford and Tory Councillor Gill Slocombe.
On 10th September the following response finally came back from the elusive Mendip councillor.
“Thank you for your email regarding the refurbishment at Broadway/ Penel Orlieu junction, Bridgwater. We are sorry to hear you that there is considerable discontent regarding the changes to the junction, however I am sure you will appreciate the junction is still under construction and not fully operational.
Within the early stages of the design process a number of options were developed in order to improve capacity at the junction whilst also providing controlled pedestrian/cycle crossing facilities. The option progressed provides the highest capacity improvement possible whilst incorporating an additional controlled Toucan crossing on West Street, an upgraded crossing on North Street and provides both pedestrian and cycle facilities plus retention of the pedestrian crossing on Broadway.
Through data obtained from traffic surveys, the previous lane allocation on Penel Orlieu was unbalanced with significantly more vehicles in the nearside lane performing the ahead and left movements than in the right lane. This provided a ratio of approximately 75% Ahead and Left : 25% Right and therefore traffic would queue within the Ahead and Left Lane. Under the new lane arrangement the traffic flows will be more balanced with a ratio of 43% : 57%. This effectively means that more traffic can pass through the junction and therefore capacity is improved.
Temporary road signage has been installed to inform motorists of the revised lane arrangement and as a result of the initial confusion ‘Left Turn Only’, with two additional arrows as you exit the roundabout, will be painted on the carriageway to reinforce this. As with all new schemes there will inevitably be a settling in period where motorists will have to revise their previous driving pattern to accommodate the revised lane structure.
The junction design has been through a formal Road Safety Audit (RSA) process and as with all new or refurbished junctions, there will be a Stage 3 RSA within one month of completion, where any safety issues will be raised and addressed. It is common practice to have a 3 month ‘settling in period’, after this time a Stage 4 RSA is carried out and again any issues will be raised and addressed.
I trust that once the junction and 3 month ‘settling in period’ is complete you will see an improvement.
I hope the above has answered the queries you have had and I would like to thank you for your interest in this matter.
Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport
Labour Councillors insist on Review within 3 Months
Labour County Councillor for Bridgwater South, Leigh Redman, has asked the County Highways department to review the operation after 3 months with the option to revert to it‘s previous format should it prove not to be an improvement.
Westover councillor and Mayor of Bridgwater, Steve Austen said “It is always of great concern when ‘the average person in the street‘ can see that this has been a monumental step backwards with increased traffic delays but the ‘professionals‘ are unable to accept they have got it wrong. Is there a guarantee that once the three month settling in period is completed that changes will be undertaken to restore a junction that was not broke and did not need fixing?“