Turf cutting marks start of Bridge Road widening scheme

Bridge Road - turf cuttingBridge Road – turf cutting

Posted on: 11 February 2016

Work will get underway on widening Bridge Road later this month.

Devon County Council’s £13.45 million scheme will develop two continuous outbound lanes from Countess Wear to the Matford roundabout on one of the busiest routes into the city.

In preparation for the start of work, a turf cutting will be held at the Canal Bridges on Monday 15 February, when site offices and material storage areas will be established.

The 14-month scheme will commence in the last week of February with utility diversion work at the Glasshouse Lane junction and the east side of Countess Wear Bridge.

From mid-March a contraflow system will be set up at the Canal Bridges to divert traffic onto the Bascule Bridge when work starts on the Swing Bridge. This will continue until late summer. Foundation work for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the railway line will start around the same time.

Throughout March, April and May, the east side of the Countess Wear Flood Relief structure will be removed and rebuilt to accommodate the widened road alignment. This work has been given flood defence consent by the Environment Agency and will have minimal impact on flood defences. The west side is being rebuilt from late May to October.

The new pedestrian and cycle bridge to be attached to the west side of the Grade II Listed Countess Wear Bridge will be fabricated off-site, and when the new bridge abutments are complete, the new bridge will be craned into position by January 2017.

Once all of the major structural work is complete, it will enable the new road surfacing and road markings to be laid by March 2017. Fencing, pedestrian guardrails and some landscaping will also be completed during this period.

The route is one of the busiest commuter routes into the city centre, carrying 30,000 vehicles a day. It is also a key route for bus services, with approximately 16 buses using the route during peak hours. However, the outbound section which merges from two lanes into one currently creates a bottleneck on the A379 corridor, leading to queuing at Countess Wear roundabout and its approach roads.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “Widening Bridge Road is essential in order to maintain economic growth in Exeter and the county as a whole. This is a busy route which is at capacity, so this upgrade will get traffic moving and reduce journey times, which will help unlock major development in the area. In the meantime please plan your journey and allow extra time”
The scheme is being funded using a combination of developer contributions as well as £5.3 million from the Heart of the South West LEP’s Growth Deal funding.

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) LEP, said: “The Bridge Road widening is one of the first of our Growth Deal funded projects to start on site, so it marks the beginning of a whole calendar of significant projects that will improve the transport infrastructure for the area and have a positive effect on the economy. Heart of the South West Growth Deal projects are selected on the basis of benefitting the whole of the area as well as the immediate location. As we develop a pipeline of projects which complement each other to deliver transformational growth, we are really seeing the progress take shape of our Strategic Economic Plan.”

Creating two continuous lanes will aim to tackle traffic queues, improving the reliability of journey times for all traffic, while at the same time improving links for pedestrians and cyclists.

For the safety of the travelling public and site staff, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction between Countess Wear roundabout and Matford roundabout throughout the scheme. There will also be a 20mph speed limit and a number of overnight or weekend road closures. Closure dates will be advertised on signs well in advance.

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Cllr Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “This is a lengthy scheme, due to the complexity of the work needed on the structures on this route. However, the long term benefits will be worthwhile and will improve sustainable travel options as well as tackling congestion.”

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

Cllr Andy Hannan

Cllr Andy Hannan

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.”

Gavin McKevitt, Operations Director for Lagan Construction Group, said: “Lagan Construction Group is delighted to have secured this significant infrastructure contract by Devon County Council. We have a fully committed team to ensure this contract is delivered with the highest safety standards, within programme and cost requirements for Devon County Council.”

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 support the cantilever pedestrian and cycle bridge which will be constructed along the upstream side of the bridge.

As part of the widening, the Swing Bridge will be rotated by around a metre to improve its alignment to accommodate two lanes to Matford roundabout. The toucan crossing will also be relocated to the northern side of the canal, and the junction of Countess Wear Road and Bridge Road will be reconstructed.

Work will be carried out by Lagan Construction Group.

More information is available here.

5 comments on “Turf cutting marks start of Bridge Road widening scheme

  1. Robin Jones says:

    Dear Sirs

    I live in Countess Wear Lane and overlook the bridge. I read yesterday that the proposed works will include night working. We have had no consultation on this. What restrictions are to be imposed on the night working? What hours will be involved? What dates will this be allowed? Not only will we be seriously inconvenienced over this period it seems now we will be deprived of sleep as well. This will seriously impact on our health. Not only that but at the end of the works we will no longer be able to turn off Bridge Road into Countess Wear Road so that to travel 10 metres I will have to drive an extra mile though congested roads. This is total madness. I have sought some answers from Councillors who have ignored the problem. It seems Devon County are ignoring the individual and making no attempt to even discuss these matters. I would welcome a meeting with the senior engineers involved.

    • Hi Mr Jones. You should have received a letter, which was sent to all immediate neighbours of the scheme, before the advance piling work in 2014. A further letter will shortly be sent to you and neighbours in advance of the start of the main scheme. Night working will be the exception rather than the rule and will be subject to the noise limits set in the contract which have been agreed with Environmental Health.
      Our senior engineers would be more than happy to meet with you should you require further information. Thanks for you comments.

  2. richard hayman says:

    Does this major capital improvement also include the removal of three sets of traffic lights used to accommodate cyclists, which is the major cause of congestion on this commuter route.

    • John B says:

      You must be joking. It requires a brain to think of that.
      DCC only need to replace the footbridge over the bypass near KGV with a cycle bridge. Do the same at Matford roundabout and hey presto, only lights needed on the swing bridge. Cost? £3m ?
      DCC did provide a cycle bridge over the railway at Powderham.
      Huge waste of public money.
      Nobody answerable to it all.

    • Hi John, The congestion at Countess Wear roundabout is aggravated by the two southbound lanes on Bridge Road merging into one, and a new cycle bridge over Bridge Road would not solve this. We’re committed to supporting all forms of transport and Glasshouse Lane and Countess Wear Road are popular cycle traffic routes. People are more likely to try and cross a road themselves if a formal crossing is not located conveniently close to their ‘desire line’, but the level of traffic on Bridge Road would make it very dangerous to try to cross the road without a formal crossing.

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