Elmbridge Court Improvements – FAQ’s
Updated – June 2016
The following Frequently Asked Questions provide more detail on the scheme. If you have a question that is not covered here, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- How much will the scheme construction cost?
Our current estimate is £8 million.
- Where will this money come from?
Around £7 million will come from the Department for Transport (DfT). The remaining £1million will come from developer contributions and GCC capital programme allocation.
- What will be the benefits of the scheme?
There are a number of benefits:
- Reducing congestion at Elmbridge Court Roundabout at peak times for all road users;
- Improving journey time reliability and reducing end to end journey time between Cheltenham and Gloucester
- By making travel easier, this will help promote Gloucester and Cheltenham centres as destinations, therefore promoting economic growth.
- Improvement of asset condition by removal of highway defects
- What are the likely consequences of doing nothing?
Forecast growth in levels of traffic will mean that delays at Elmbridge Court junction will increase further, especially at peak times. With future development planned within the Gloucester/Cheltenham areas, traffic growth is predicted to increase by up to 20% by 2026. The scheme plans to tackle this possibility by (1) increasing capacity of the Elmbridge Court junction and (2) Making bus travel more attractive by improving journey time and reliability so that more people will choose to take the bus rather than drive – for at least part of their journey.
- Didn’t this scheme previously include a Park and Ride?
Yes. However, in agreement with the DfT, the county is prioritising the roundabout improvement works, working with Highways England on the detailed design and technical approvals, to enable a summer 2016 construction start date. The Park and Ride element of the scheme is currently contained within the draft Local Transport Plan (LTP) 2015-2031 as a county-wide capital project. Following the conclusion of the public consultation, and anticipated adoption of the LTP by GCC in July 2016, the building of the Park and Ride would be subject to the availability of new external funding and the approval of a business case.
- Didn’t this scheme used to include the closure of Cheltenham Road East and a new link road to the A40 Golden Valley bypass?
Yes, a previous scheme submitted in March 2010 did include these proposals. However they will not now happen because we can deliver very similar levels of benefit, at a significantly lower cost, without them.
- Didn’t this scheme used to be called “Gloucester Parkway”?
A previous and quite different scheme, called “Integrated Transport at Elmbridge Court” did include proposals for a Parkway station on the Bristol – Birmingham main line. Currently the county council has no active plans to promote the Gloucester Parkway proposal.
- What difference will this scheme make to my journey?
We have undertaken extensive modelling of the proposed layout, in order to refine the design and predict the difference the scheme will make in terms of congestion and journey times. Overall journey time savings at time of opening are expected to be as much as 15minutes at peak times, depending on which direction you are travelling. Journey times are reduced in all directions.
- Why Elmbridge Court?
Elmbridge Court junction is one of the busiest in the county; and traffic congestion is already a problem particularly at peak hours. It also has a high accident record. Forecast future traffic growth will make congestion much worse.
- This junction looks complicated – how do I know it is safe and how will I know how to use it?
‘Hamburger’ style roundabouts are being increasingly used around the country. Good examples can be found in Oxford and Nottingham. Clear signing, road markings and lanes, a reduced speed limit and other features will help ensure that the junction is safe for road users, as well as being less congested.
- What happens when the signals break down or there is a power cut?
A ‘battleplan’ has been developed to ensure the junction continues to operate safely if the signals fail. Advance signage and traffic management will be deployed to close off the through lane, to allow the junction to continue to act as a normal roundabout.
- Won’t the improved layout encourage more people to divert to this junction and therefore increase congestion again?
The design of the scheme has been developed using specialist modelling software which aims to predict likely future traffic growth and changes in driver behaviour as a result of improvements to the network. Modelling of the junction has been undertaken for various points in the future up to 2026.
- Wouldn’t a grade separated interchange (or ‘flyover’) be better and safer?
A grade separated interchange would increase the capacity of the junction, and has been considered in the past as a potential option. However it has been discounted at present due to the substantial environmental effects, particularly on nearby properties, and greatly increased cost.
- What benefits will it give to my journey through the junction?
We have undertaken extensive modelling of the proposed layout, in order to refine the design and predict the difference the scheme will make in terms of congestion and journey times. Overall journey time savings at time of opening are expected to be as much as 15 minutes at peak times, depending on which direction you are travelling. Journey times are reduced in all directions.
- Why is there no bus priority on the roundabout itself?
Potential bus priority was considered at the outline design stage of the scheme. However due to the complex turning movements, no formal bus priority measures could be implemented effectively and safely. However the roundabout improvements will reduce congestion for all traffic, and therefore improve the speed and reliability of bus movements through the junction.
- How will fire engines from the fire station next door negotiate the roundabout?
The roundabout improvements will reduce congestion for all traffic, and therefore improve the ability for emergency vehicles to negotiate the junction. A signal controlled ‘green wave’, will give priority to emergency vehicles coming out of the Fire Station.
- Why can’t you close the subways and allow pedestrians/cyclists to cross at road level using pedestrian crossings? This would be safer and slow traffic down.
Closing the subways would result in cyclists and pedestrians having to wait longer for signals to change to green, and would cause increased delays to traffic. At present there are no significant security issues with use of the existing subways that we are aware of. Extensions to the subway will be properly lit to enhance user security at night. Traffic is being slowed down on the approach to the junction using reduced speed limits and other measures.
- Why isn’t anything being done to improve cycle routes on/near the roundabout?
We are working with Highways England to improve the existing cycle infrastructure on the roundabout, having identified the subway routes as in need of improvement. In addition, Highways England are currently producing a feasibility study on how best to improve the connectivity between Elmbridge Court Roundabout and Arle Court Roundabout (Gloucester to Cheltenham) for cyclists and will be making recommendations as part of this study.
- Why are you not installing traffic signals on the approach to the roundabout from Churchdown to reduce the long delays on this approach?
We have undertaken extensive traffic modelling to work out the optimum junction layout, and the improvements to flows on the roundabout means that queuing on the approach from Churchdown will be greatly reduced without needing to install signals on this arm. However we plan to install spare ducting to allow easier installation in the future if changes in traffic flows mean that this becomes a problem again.
- Are you seriously considering the potential environmental impacts of the scheme?
Yes. We have undertaken a large amount of site survey work in order to assess the potential environmental impacts; and how the scheme design can mitigate these. An important part of the planning application is the Environmental Statement, which has considered in detail, all the environmental impacts of the scheme, and how we are proposing to mitigate these impacts.
- Is anything proposed to reduce noise/pollution to neighbouring properties?
Base line noise assessments have been undertaken using standard methodologies that have been approved by the Highway Agency and tested through public inquiry. The noise assessment has reviewed the impact of any change in noise levels at adjacent properties.
Consultation & Planning
- Has the county council consulted the public on the principles of scheme?
Yes, the scheme was part of the county council’s third Local Transport Plan which was subject to widespread public consultation. A requirement of the planning process was formal consultation with the local community and prescribed consultees. Between January and March 2013 formal consultation on Elmbridge Transport Scheme took place. A copy of the consultation documents are still available on our website, and a report detailing the consultation findings (titled ‘Statement of Pre-application Community Engagement’) is included as part of the planning application.
- When will the scheme start construction, and when will it be finished?
We are aiming to commence construction in summer 2016, with the scheme open in autumn 2017.
- These works are going to disrupt my journey – what are you going to do to reduce this?
We recognise the importance of ensuring that we minimise disruption while the scheme is being constructed. During the works we aim to maintain a minimum of two working lanes on the roundabout, with no traffic signal control being employed anywhere during rush hour periods except for the normal control of Elmbridge Court Roundabout. A phased approach will be taken to the build so that we can keep the traffic moving.
- How will you avoid creating excessive noise/pollution/dust/mud during construction?
As part of the tender process for construction of the scheme we will set out the requirements of a Code of Construction Practice, and a Construction Environmental Management Plan will be prepared. This will set out the approach to minimising and mitigation of the impacts of noise/ pollution etc during the construction period.
- Why not incorporate this scheme into developments proposed in the Joint Core Strategy? Don’t you need to know what the finalised JCS option for development in the area is before deciding the design of the scheme?
The Joint Core Strategy is not being developed by the County Council; but by Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury councils. As the highway authority, we are aiming to work constructively to assess the transport infrastructure needed if any adjacent land were allocated for development. However due to the length of the JCS process, our project programme and funding conditions mean we need to progress the project before this process is complete.