Vital improvements to one of Exeter’s busiest commuter routes are due to start in mid February.
Devon County Council has announced initial details of a 14-month scheme to widen Bridge Road in Exeter, developing two continuous outbound lanes from Countess Wear to the Matford roundabout.
The £13.45 million scheme will aim to tackle queuing and reduce journey times for all traffic, while at the same time improving links for pedestrians and cyclists.
In order to protect travelling motorists and provide safe working space for the site staff, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction between Countess Wear roundabout and Matford roundabout throughout the scheme.
The scheme involves:
- Rotating the Swing Bridge by around a metre to change the angle of exit from the structure to allow an improved alignment for the two lanes to Matford roundabout which this scheme will provide;
- Creation of a cantilevered pedestrian and cycle bridge along the upstream side of Countess Wear Bridge;
- Relocating the toucan crossing to the northern side of the canal, and staggering the crossing with a separate set of traffic signals for the northbound and southbound traffic;
- Improvements to the walking and cycling route along the full length of Bridge Road to provide greater connectivity with the existing cycle network;
- Reconstructing the junction of Countess Wear Road and Bridge Road to prevent traffic turning left off Bridge Road.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “This is another excellent example of Devon County Council investing major sums of money in Exeter. Bridge Road is a key commuter route into the city and with 30,000 vehicles using the road each day it has reached capacity. This scheme is vital to help unlock major developments of around 6,000 new homes in Newcourt and south west Exeter. It will also ensure that traffic can keep moving on this route in order to reduce delays and improve the reliability of journey times.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “This is an extremely complex scheme that involves a number of structures, and unfortunately some disruption is unavoidable. The work will take just over a year and while our advice is to allow extra time for your journey when work is underway, once the scheme has been completed the long term benefit will be felt for many years to come.”
Councillor Andy Hannan, local County Councillor for Priory and St Leonard’s, said: “This is a case of short-term pain intended to bring about long-term gain. In general I welcome this development and hope
that it will eventually have a positive impact on Countess Wear roundabout, particularly on the approach from Topsham which currently gets backed up in the morning rush hour. If the extra lane means that motorists are no longer tempted to use rat runs through the Glasshouse Lane estate the work will have been worthwhile.”
The first phase of the scheme was completed in Spring 2014, when concrete piled foundations were installed in the piers of the historic Grade II Listed Countess Wear Bridge. These will be used to support the weight of the cantilever pedestrian and cycle bridge which will be constructed along the upstream side of the bridge.
The scheme is being funded using a combination of developer contributions as well as funding from the Department for Transport through the Local Transport Board.