A congestion hotspot which has infuriated motorists for decades will finally be unclogged after the final piece in an £18 million improvement scheme fell into place.
The Elmbridge Court roundabout at the end of the A40 Golden Valley bypass will be radically changed as part of a wider plan to improve travel between Cheltenham and Gloucester.
The roundabout will be redesigned and will include a ‘hamburger’ lane running through its middle.
The revamp will also include a 1,000 space park and ride facility, priority lanes for buses and smarter traffic technology to keep everybody on the move.
The scheme aims to cut congestion on the roundabout as well as reduce the number of cars travelling to and from Gloucester and Cheltenham.
It is hoped construction will commence in Summer 2015 with the scheme completed in Autumn 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 cost?
A: Our current estimate is £16.5 million.
- Where will this money come from?
A: Around £14.1 million will come from the Department for Transport (DfT). The remaining £2.4 million will come from the County Council’s Local Transport Plan allocation (also from the DfT) and developer contributions.
- What will be the benefits of the scheme?
A: There are a number of benefits:
- Reducing the need for cars to travel into Gloucester and Cheltenham, thereby reducing congestion and emissions;
- Reducing congestion at Elmbridge Court Roundabout at peak times for all road users;
- Improving bus service reliability and speed;
- By making travel easier, this will help promote Gloucester and Cheltenham centres as destinations, therefore promoting economic growth.
- What are the likely consequences of doing nothing?
A: 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 Elmbridge Transport scheme plans to tackle this possibility by (1) increasing capacity of the Elmbridge Court junction and (2) Making bus services more attractive so that more people will choose to take the bus rather than drive – for at least part of their journey.
- Will the scheme require land not in the county council’s ownership?
A: Yes, we are currently talking to the landowners to see whether the land can be bought by negotiation. It is possible that the council could purchase the land via a Compulsory Purchase Order, although this is not the preferred option.
- Didn’t this scheme used to include the closure of Cheltenham Road East and a new link road to the A40 Golden Valley bypass?
A: 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: 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. However the Elmbridge Transport scheme does not propose a Parkway railway station. Currently the county council has no active plans to promote the Gloucester Parkway proposal.
- What difference will this scheme make to my journey?
A: 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.
- What growth in traffic has the scheme been designed for? Isn’t there a danger that in another 10 years, more work will be required to increase the size of the junction/Park & Ride?
A: The design of the scheme has been developed using specialist modelling software which aims to predict likely future traffic growth and demand for the Park & Ride. Modelling of the junction has been undertaken for various points in the future up to 2026.
- Why doesn’t this scheme do anything about the congestion at other junctionsin this area, especially C&G roundabout?
A: This scheme is aimed at reducing congestion at one of the busiest junctions in the county. Gloucestershire County Council are currently undertaking major improvements to C&G and Walls roundabouts, which is a separate ‘pinchpoint’ funding project. Schemes are also being planned by the County Council and the Highways Agency to deal with congestion at other key junctions around Gloucester. .
- Why Elmbridge Court?
A: 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?
A: ‘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: 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?
A: 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: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: The roundabout improvements will reduce congestion for all traffic, and therefore improve the ability for emergency vehicles to negotiate the junction. However a lane dedicated to emergency vehicles to access the roundabout through lane has also been incorporated into the scheme; and priority signal control linked to the fire station is also being considered.
- 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.
A: 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?
A: A new cycle link is being provided to the new Park & Ride site. Management of the vegetation will be undertaken to ensure sight lines and user security are improved.
- Have you assessed the impact on traffic of the proposed Park & Ride junction on the A40 Golden Valley bypass?
A: Yes, we have used traffic modelling software to show that the junction will not cause excessive delays; and the improvements at Elmbridge Court roundabout will more than compensate for any additional delays as a result of a new junction.
- Why are you not installing traffic signals on the approach to the roundabout from Churchdown to reduce the long delays on this approach?
A: 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.
- When will the scheme start construction, and when will it be finished?
A: We are aiming to commence construction in summer 2015 and open the scheme to bus services in autumn 2016.
- These works are going to disrupt my journey – what are you going to do to reduce this?
A: 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. The details of the phasing have not been finalised yet but an indicative programme can be found on the website.
- How will you avoid creating excessive noise/pollution/dust/mud during construction?
A: 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.