Leaked document reveals council is looking at closing bridge to general traffic, to help speed MetroBus journeys.
Campaigners who successfully petitioned for a review of South Gloucestershire Council’s decision to construct a new bus lane on Hatchet Road, Stoke Gifford say they are shocked to hear that one of the alternative proposals being actively considered by the council includes the closure to general traffic of the Parkway Station railway bridge (linking Hatchet Road to Brierly Furlong).
The bus lane, or whatever alternative proposal might replace it, is required to support a ‘second phase’ MetroBus route known as the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME), which will link The Mall at Cribbs Causeway with Bristol Parkway Station and serve the new developments planned for the former Filton Airfield site.
The council insists that measures are needed to shorten MetroBus bus journey times and “increase reliability” on the Hatchet Road section of the route, but campaigners have argued that the bus lane scheme represents poor value for money and will only achieve minimal journey time improvements.
Their preferred alternative, which would remove the need to remove mature hedgerows and trees from both sides of Hatchet Road, is to review the number of bus stops and implement lay-bys at those that are deemed necessary.
A study note seen by the Journal and known to be in the possession of local councillors and campaigners, describes a £1.5m scheme to restrict the Parkway railway bridge to buses, taxis, pedestrians and cyclists only. This would be supported by a £6.5m scheme to widen the Winterbourne Road to dual carriageway along its full length between the Hatchet Road Roundabout and Great Stoke Roundabout (a.k.a. Rabbit Roundabout) and a £5m scheme of improvements at Great Stoke Roundabout.
The supporting elements are understood to be necessary to handle the general traffic that would need to use the soon-to-open Stoke Gifford Transport Link as an alternative route.
Advantages of the alternative scheme, aside from those for MetroBus, are said to include making the Parkway bridge safer for pedestrians and cyclists and encouraging the use of sustainable transport.
The only disadvantage listed in the study note is that traffic from the north would not be able to travel to the south of the railway line without redirecting around the A38 or SGTL. [Ed: This would clearly also apply for journeys in the opposite direction, e.g. from Filton to Parkway Station.]
On the subject of funding, the note says: “Some initial work has suggested that the scheme, tested with and without the [Winterbourne Road] widening, would have a good chance of achieving funding through the West of England Combined Authority channels.”
When the existence of the study note was raised by members of the public at a meeting of Stoke Gifford Parish Council on 12th September, council chair Ernie Brown, also an SGC ward councillor, said he was aware that SGC’s officers had been working on the alternative proposal “for three months”. He added that he “didn’t want to see any discussion of the Parkway bridge closure option” and said he was worried that the outcome of the current review would offer just two options, the Hatchet Road bus lane or the closure of the Parkway bridge.
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson declined to confirm any details from the study note, saying only:
“We are on track to report back to Cabinet on this issue later this year, [an action] which was resolved at a meeting of Full Council in July.”
“As part of this work, officers are re-examining plans for the route of the MetroBus from the Hatchet Road roundabout to Parkway Station and investigating whether the CPME scheme can be delivered in a different way. The details are still being finalised, however a report will be brought to a public meeting of Cabinet where the proposals will be discussed in full.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 8). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.