Temporary shuttle lights which have been in place at Parkway Bridge since June 2020 are to be removed ahead of the start of the new school year in September. Other planned changes will see the footways under the bridge widened and a 20mph speed limit introduced for road users.
News of the decision has come from the Conservative political group on South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) but has not yet been confirmed by the council’s strategic communications team.
Measures to widen the footpath on either side under the bridge were put in place last year to allow for pedestrians and cyclists to socially distance from one another at the pinch point regularly used by commuters and students, with traffic reduced to one lane controlled by traffic lights.
With the nature of the measures being temporary, local Conservative ward councillors Brian Allinson, Ernie Brown and Keith Cranney called on South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative-led administration to remove the lights as soon as safe and possible to do so, pressing council officers to explore alternatives that could preserve the heightened safety levels of the new measures whilst relieving the pressure on the local road network resulting from the lights.
However, in a briefing note published in May 2021, council officers responded with a recommendation to keep the scheme in place for a further 12 months, saying that it had “encouraged active travel and improved road safety whilst not having an adverse impact on the highway network”.
With traffic levels set to increase further in September 2021 as schools look to return, the three Stoke Gifford ward councillors persisted with their demands and have now been successful in securing a new scheme that will “prioritise safety whilst allowing a more controlled free-flowing traffic”.
Alongside the removal of the traffic lights and the barriers, South Gloucestershire Council will be widening the footways on both sides of the road whilst introducing a 20mph speed limit on Brierly Furlong and Hatchet Road from south of the mini-roundabout at the Church Road junction to the Ratcliffe Drive roundabout.
The works will be put into place overnight using road closures over a two-week period, with a start date to be released following agreement with Network Rail [but see the already-published road closure notice below].
Alongside this, the council will be working alongside local schools to further promote road safety and to ensure local children that use the bridge underpass understand the changes.
The Journal has been informed that the decision to remove the temporary lights and implement the new measures was taken by the council’s director of environment and community services yesterday (2nd August 2021) under officer delegated powers.
SGC’s Cabinet member for regeneration, environment and strategic infrastructure, Cllr Steve Reade, said:
“With Covid restrictions having been lifted and the vaccine rollout continuing, the necessity for the current measures under Parkway Bridge to enable social distancing have significantly reduced and we are in a position to look again at how best to manage this junction.”
“I am pleased that the new scheme, agreed following consultation with local members, enables us to again allow traffic to flow more freely under this pinch point without sacrificing the safety of pedestrians and cyclists that travel under the bridge every day, including commuters and students ranging from primary to post-16.”
Celebrating the plans for the new scheme under the bridge, Cllrs Brian Allinson, Ernie Brown and Keith Cranney, who represent the Stoke Gifford Ward, said:
“We are absolutely delighted that the council has listened to our calls on behalf of the community to remove these lights and free up traffic with these positive measures, helping to keep Stoke Gifford moving as we look to move past the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Public safety remains a top priority for us as local councillors and we are pleased to see the footpaths being widened and the speed limit being changed to 20mph to encourage more considerate driving under and around the bridge.”
“Our campaign continues for a new pedestrian tunnel through the bridge, removing the risks posed by traffic to the public on foot and bikes, and we will keep pushing the council and the West of England Combined Authority to get this delivered as soon as possible.”
Related link: Prospects for a parallel tunnel at Parkway (The Journal)
Editor’s note: A new article will be posted once full details of the new scheme and timings for its implementation become available. In addition to questions we had already put to SGC prior to receipt of the Conservative political group’s press release, we will also be asking how it is possible to widen the footways under the bridge while maintaining two traffic lanes.
Road closure notice
Rumours that the shuttle lights might soon be removed were fuelled by the publication of a road closure notice by South Gloucestershire Council on 30th July 2021.
The notice describes a road closure on 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), to allow “footway reconstruction works” to be carried out.
The notice states: “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.”
Overnight road closures confirmed
UPDATE added 20th August 2021.
From a post on the South Gloucestershire Council StreetCare page on Facebook:
“To enable footway widening works, Brierly Furlong will need to be closed overnight for ten weekday nights between the hours of 8pm and 6am from Monday 23rd August to Friday 3rd September. The road will be closed between its junction with the Bristol Parkway Station access road and Church Road.”