Bridge Road improvements due to start in the New Year

Bridge Road cantilever structure - computer image

Posted on: 22 December 2015

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.

12 comments on “Bridge Road improvements due to start in the New Year

  1. Sean Anthony says:

    Why not build a bridge over the four lanes for cyclists the same as the top of bridge road. This would stop traffic being halted and enable cyclists to carry on with out stopping

  2. Paul Stanbridge says:

    I have no issues with the scheme only the length of time that road users will face disruption. This is a key link road connecting the city and our largest trading estate at Marsh Barton. Has the economic cost of distruption been properly evaluated? I use this road most days and typically see 2 to 4 workman. Surely the council should have planned for a larger contruction team, extended working hours and weekend working. 72 weeks of delays is not acceptable, the time could be more than halved if DCC considered the motorist and the impact on the economy. Remember we also have other long delays on the Topsham Road. Any chance of a reply from those who awarded this contract?

  3. David Turner says:

    The shared footpath / cycleway looks quite narrow on what is a very busy cycle route. And only appears to be on one side of the road, necessitating crossing 4 lanes of busy traffic to get to it (or from it). Why can 4 lands be found for cars, when only one shared space can be found for pedestrians and cyclists?

    • Thanks for the comment. The reason for relocating the crossing is that the existing site is on a slight bend near the bridges with restricted visibility. The new location is safer for all including those using the crossing.

      The new road layout will be four lanes wide, instead of the existing three, and so to reduce waiting time for motorists and to stop pedestrians from having to cross four lanes at a time, an island refuge is incorporated.

      The cycle/footways on either side of the new crossing and the central island, have been designed to allow space for cyclists and pedestrians to wait comfortably at what is a popular crossing.

      The new layout is safer for all and reduces, albeit only marginally, the delays to motorists on this extremely busy road.

      The Environment Agency is altering the levels on the north eastern canal bank to realign the canal footway at its junction with Bridge Road at the Bascule Bridge. This new alignment (which has been altered since the scheme drawings were posted) will allow cyclists and pedestrians to access the canal path from the new crossing when the bridges are up, which is not possible at the moment.

  4. Jose Clements says:

    I use that route to cycle from Rydon road direction and head towards the River Exe Valley park. The re-siting of the toucan and in particular the staggered crossing looks like a retrograde step designed to discourage/dishearten/ put-at-increased-risk me and the many cyclists who use the route. I’d be very surprised if the whole project is not long-term pain for short-term gain and more long-term pain as extra traffic will fill the space made and create problems further into the city. When are councillors and planners going to accept that creating space for cars is not working for anyone?

  5. Tony Fahy says:

    Can you confirm that as now cyclists will be able to cross the bridge in one go rather than being corralled dangerously on an island in the middle of traffic waiting for either carriage way to stop

  6. Roger Adams says:


    I’m concerned about the plan for a staggered toucan crossing N if the canal. The Exe Estuary Trail is so heavily used I don’t think this can be workable or safe with so many cyclists needing to wait in the middle of the carriageway. The island would need to be very large.

    It would seem more sensible and safe to have a one phase crossing with cyclists making it all the way across, with only one signal for both carriageways of motors.

    The current plan at this point seems also to under prioritise cycling as a valid mode of travel, which rather goes against the modal shift in travel that is evident in Devon, and Exeter in particular.

    Can these thoughts be taken into account as the work is reviewed?


  7. Alan Mirren says:

    Please can you explain how a staggered crossing for cyclists will speed journeys for cyclists and make them more pleasant

  8. Alan Mirren says:

    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 -…….Please could you explain how having a staggered crossing for cyclists will speed cyclists journeys and make them more pleasant. Thanks.

  9. Dan Grey says:

    I can’t believe you’re splitting the toucan in two so it’ll take twice as long for people to cross the road. Why on earth are you doing that?

  10. John B says:

    “Reconstructing the junction of Countess Wear Road and Bridge Road to prevent traffic turning left off Bridge Road”

    Could more detail be provided please?


    • Hi John, Prior to the scheme, drivers could turn left and access a very short section of Countess Wear Road before reaching ‘No Entry’ signs placed diagonally across the road before Roche Gardens. The ‘No Entry’ signs were to prevent Exeter-bound drivers cutting through the residential estate of Countess Wear Road, to try and avoid the roundabout. The ‘No Entry’ signs were originally placed at this location so that access off Bridge Road was available for the commercial site which previously existed at this location. However, there have been numerous complaints that the ‘No Entry’ signs were being ignored, so now that the site has been redeveloped into new housing, the traffic restriction is being amended so that no vehicles can turn left from Bridge Road. The junction will be reconstructed to prevent vehicles turning left off Bridge Road, and this gives the advantage of providing more space for pedestrians and cyclists. The kerbline will be extended out into what is now the centre of the junction so that the current ‘left-turn-in’ carriageway area becomes part of the footway approach to the new foot/cyclebridge addition to Countess Wear Bridge, but the ‘left-turn-out’ section of carriageway is unchanged. A traffic order on these changes was advertised and open for consultation in October 2014.

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