Following the revelation in last month’s Journal magazine that officers at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) are pushing for the temporary ‘shuttle’ traffic lights at Parkway Bridge to remain in place for a further 12 months, varying accounts have emerged of a further meeting held in late June to discuss the future of the controversial scheme.
The single-lane traffic system was introduced at the bridge in June 2020 (during the first Covid-19 lockdown) to create extra space for people walking or cycling through the tunnel.
With traffic levels increasing as lockdown measures are eased and the risk of virus transmission for non-motorised users passing under the bridge now seen as less of an issue, the three South Gloucestershire ward councillors for Stoke Gifford have unanimously called for the scheme to be removed.
After a meeting with SGC officers on 26th May, the local councillors reported that the officers had agreed to undertake a “complete appraisal of the traffic throughout the coming weeks to make an informed comparison to what was experienced pre-Covid”, to aid future decisions on the current measures.
Following the latest meeting with the local councillors on 26th June, an SCG spokesperson told the Journal:
“We are still conducting the appraisal, but so far we’ve seen that levels of traffic have remained manageable with no excessive queuing outside of short periods in the morning and evenings.”
“However, we anticipate traffic levels will increase when current Covid-19 restrictions are due to be [further] eased in July. With that in mind, officers are starting to look at options to manage this, which will be presented to members.”
Asked when a decision on the future of the scheme is expected to be made, and by whom, the spokesperson added:
“A report will be produced following the appraisal and a decision will be made in consultation with members, which is likely to be later this summer.”
In a statement to the Journal, Stoke Gifford ward councillor Ernie Brown was a little more forthcoming, saying:
“The meeting was quite positive, and it showed that SGC is at last beginning to listen to its ward councillors. The proposal from SGC Highways is for two-way traffic with increased safety measures, plus a possible 20mph speed limit to be in place, by the time the schools go back in September and traffic is likely to increase. [This is] a constructive way ahead, as at the last meeting there was the possibility of the restriction staying in place for a further 12 months.”
New height restriction warning signs were installed at the bridge in late June, necessitating four days of overnight road closures. Given that the current single-lane mode of operation restricts vehicles to the centre of the arch-roofed tunnel, thereby removing the risk of bridge strikes, this led to speculation that a decision to return to two-lane operation had already been made.
However, an SGC spokesperson played down the inference, saying the height restriction “would remain the same for either one- or two-lane traffic”.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 6 & 7). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Footway reconstruction works
UPDATE added 2nd August 2021.
South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) has recently issued a road closure notice relating to Hatchet Road, from its junction with the Church Road roundabout to the junction with the Station Approach roundabout (i.e. the section under the railway bridge), so that “footway reconstruction works” can be carried out.
It is anticipated that the works will be carried out between Monday 23rd August and Saturday 4th September 2021, from 6pm to 8am each night.
SGC has been approached for comment. A new article will be posted once a reply has been received.