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Author Topic: Westbury Bypass, 2019  (Read 378 times)
grahame
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« on: November 07, 2019, 03:33:00 pm »

Split from http://www.passenger.chat/4964

The rejection of the [Westbury] bypass in 2009 did not, of course, solve the underlying issues for which the whole idea was brought up in the first place.  Heavy lorries still rumble through the town on the trunk primary route A350, all vehicles twist and turn at a series of roundabouts, for the most part still producing concentrations of noxious gases and at some times of day it can be distinctly slow.

I was in Westbury last night with a brief to talk on current and future issues on PUBLIC transport - but that was just one half of an action packed evening, with the other half given over to issues relating to the neighbourhood plan, a key element of would need to be the environment in the town and what vehicles (lorries, buses, delivery vans, cars, cycles) go where.   And that could be so different were there a way for some of the most impact-full elements being routed away from the town, while protecting and encouraging traffic to businesses in the town.

Carrying on with some further detail

There's a lot of road traffic – including but not limited to heavy lorries – to and from the towns on the south coast of England – Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole, Weymouth... and from inland towns such as Andover, Salisbury, and Yeovil up to the M4 corridor, with onward destinations such as Bristol, Swindon, Oxford and Gloucester, and South Wales and the Midlands.

Towards the east of this zone, the A34 trunk road is a dual carriageway that's the natural route for that traffic.   To the west of that zone, you have the M5 motorway – but is goes a long way West. In between, you have a number of roads which are designated as being "trunk" or "primary route", but all of which have their pinch points which make them less than ideal either for the traffic that's on them, or the people who live beside of near the road.



The A37 takes traffic through Bristol
The A46 and A36 takes traffic through Bath
The A350 takes traffic through Westbury
The A345 takes traffic through Marlborough

Oh dear...

To some extent, the A36/A46 and A350 are linked – they come together for a few miles at Warminster, and provide a trunk road primary route flexibility from 2 points rather than one on the M5 to both the Southampton area and Poole areas,  They are also in the middle of the void of decent North-South roads between the A34 and the M5, so have become the natural focus for traffic, and where users of those roads then curse at their inadequacy, and residents alongside the roads curse at the traffic and the effects of the traffic.

On the map above, I have highlighted the worst of the pinch-points (and note that there are more of them south of Warminster – places like Salisbury and Shaftesbury.

The A36/A46 come within 450 metres of each other on the outskirts of Bath, but there's no road and traffic has to go nearly 10 times that distance in to Bath's older 'burbs to cross Cleveland bridge, dating from 1826 and grade II* listed before driving up between the Georgian houses of Bathwick Street.  A quick search will tell readers of this thread that the good people of Bath really don't want this through heavy traffic that's shaking them to pieces and poisoning their air, and that equally there is a strong, well established and historically successful movement not to provide a more direct link.  It's probably fair to say that the local government and residents in this area would prefer a solution in which the "heavies" use some route away from their city and valley all together.

Metrics are somewhat different on the A350.  Wiltshire Council has long spoken of and promoted the "A350 corridor".  Earlier inner relief roads in both Chippenham and Melksham, which the road passed through, themselves became clogged. A new bypass has already been constructed around Chippenham which bypasses the relief road, and that is itself being dualled in sections - two more sections are in the pipeline for that treatment. In Melksham, the pinch point of Farmer's roundabout has been widened and had traffic lights applied in recent months, though that does not cure the bottleneck from the Bath Road junction to Foundry Close.  Semington has been bypassed too, and there's now a strong proposal for a new bypass for Melksham, to the east, which would take traffic away from the remaining village on the A350's northern section (Beanacre) and also from the bottleneck just mentioned above.  Improvements are also in the offing for the West Ashton Crossroads and for Yarnbrook

So that means that – now or in the next decade – the A350 will be a free-flowing connector road from the Motorway past and servicing Chippenham, past and servicing Melksham, and skirting Trowbridge, giving access in to the commercial areas to the north and south of the town, and also to the West Wilts trading estate, on the northern flank of Westbury.

But there it stops.

From Yarnbrook, the A350 winds its way through Westbury before joining the A36 on the outskirts of Warminster.  Even commercial traffic from the West Wilts trading estate has to exit back up and double back at Yarnbrook, as there are no bridges over or under the railway that take commercial goods vehicles in excess of 7.5 tons

Looking wider, should we be thinking that traffic may be peaking along the A350 and with more people moving to public transport - train in particular - the need for road vehicle movement will cease to grow?  No - I suspect not.  The council has aggressive growth plans, and even if we get a move to rail, it's likely that other new traffic will come to fill any gap left.

Quote
“Wiltshire aims to deliver over 73,000 new homes and over 27,500 new jobs by 2036.

This will support local innovation, promote the growth of skills and businesses, and improve transport connectivity in three priority growth zones: Swindon-M4, Salisbury-A303 and along the North/South A350 corridor.

The Council has embarked on an ambitious review of the local plan, proposing to accelerate growth in key locations. Unlocking that potential requires upfront investment in infrastructure, and a strategic approach to delivery, which the Council proposes to lead.”

And - with the improvements described above - the A350 will start to look increasingly attractive to long distance lorries, even if they know they're going to have to snake their way through Westbury.  And the A350 will become the more attractive should Bath apply tariffs for vehicles to come into - or pass through - the city.

So how will / could / can Westbury cope with all this extra traffic?   Watch for the next instalment... following up a little later ...

Edit - amended to correct "trunk" v "primary route" designation.  Article concerns primary routes or 'larger' road - those larger roads being trunk and motorway.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 07:37:04 am by grahame » Logged

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rogerw
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 04:02:33 pm »

Just one correction on a point of fact.  Only the A46/A36 route is a Trunk Road, under national control.  The others are designated National Primary Routes, under the control of the Local Authorities.
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2019, 11:35:06 pm »

Even commercial traffic from the West Wilts trading estate has to exit back up and double back at Yarnbrook, as there are no bridges over ........ the railway that take commercial goods vehicles in excess of 7.5 tons.

...............unless you have Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Japanese, Brazillian, Mongolian, etc, etc, plates on your lorry............  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy 
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2019, 06:40:55 am »

Even commercial traffic from the West Wilts trading estate has to exit back up and double back at Yarnbrook, as there are no bridges over ........ the railway that take commercial goods vehicles in excess of 7.5 tons.

...............unless you have Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Japanese, Brazillian, Mongolian, etc, etc, plates on your lorry............  Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy 

Many a true word written in jest.  The weight limit is in place because of the condition of the bridge (or so I understand) with fears of damage or collapse when an overweight vehicle passes (or tries to pass) over.  How much real danger there is of this I don't know, how much is caution or other reasoning.  There have, however, been  difficulties in enforcement, and reference has been made to how impractical retrospective following up of lorries registered in a different jurisdiction has been.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2019, 07:13:31 am »

Just one correction on a point of fact.  Only the A46/A36 route is a Trunk Road, under national control.  The others are designated National Primary Routes, under the control of the Local Authorities.

Thanks for that - I will go back and edit my working so that the article is as factually correct as practical
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2019, 07:15:40 am »

And so... we're moving ever closer to a truly trunk road (and not just one designated as such) from the M4 Motorway passing and serving the growing towns of Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge, and the West Wilts trading estate too.  It's a council planned growth area, and furthermore this improved road will attract, like a sponge, traffic from the next north-south trunk roads / primary routes to the east and west.

So – how to deal with traffic that comes down this road from the north – or starts at the West Wilts Trading Estate - and wants to head on to Warminster, or past Warminster to Salisbury, Southampton and the Solent area, or to Blandford, Bournemouth, and Poole?

Here is your starting point, as we are today



Traffic come down the A350 (from the top right) and hits congestion at the West Ashton traffic lights, with traffic clogged up from there to Yarnbrook corner. A350 through traffic turns left and carries on under the railway and through Westbury's main area (shown as area 2) with multiple turns including several narrow streets quite unfir for HGVs. Traffic then continues out of the town towards Waminster.

Traffic for the West Wilts Tradng Estate turns right rather than left at Yarnbrook, passes under the railwayand then doubles back towards the estate, which is area no. 1 on the map,  Any traffic heade from the A350 towards from is also likely to turn right at Yarnbrook and get caught up in the outskirts of Trowbridge.

Final point of concern - it must be very tempting for HGVs from West Wilts headed south to cross over the railway - 1,5,2 - however, with the weight limit on the bridge, traffic has to head all the way up from West Wilts to the dogleg and then go straight over at Yarnbrook.

Completing the labelling, 3 is Westbury Leigh and 4 is Dilton Marsh.

Now - how to overcome those issues ... starting from Yarnbook and headed out for Warminster:
1. Send it through just as you do at present
2. Send it underneath
3. Send it over the top
4. Bulldoze it straight through
5. Send it to the left
6. Send it to the right
7. Don't have it turn up at Yarnbrook in the first place
8. Don't have it need to go to Warminster as a destination
9. Send it through by rail
10. Reduce the need for traffic to pass by Westbury
You have to forgive me, as a systems analyst, considering just about every conceivable option.  At a point where we're getting "near implementation", those options need to be thinned out with the far-fetched ones eliminated quickly, reducing to just a handful of options and then a final choice. Looking at current Melksham proposals, for example, we're fairly well set with where a traffic relief road should run.

Next post / episode - I'll look at a couple of these options (the more conventional ones).  Should we be looking at ultimate solution and not the heartache of the construction period, the odd "way out" solution might come into its own - adding a road deck above the railway line!  And the "do nothing" option has been the net result for the past 20 years, and it may well end up being the net result for the next 20 too. Wider diversions - there are three such options there - could (really long shot) come to pass were there something done to relieve the Bath bottleneck on the A36/A46 by adding capacity rather than currently planned restriction via tariffs.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2019, 08:31:47 am »

So... approaching Westbury from the M4, Chippenham, Melksham direction the first pinch point you cone to are the traffic lights at West Ashton crossroads.  Ahead from there, you come to Yarnbrook roundabout.



Taking off from around West Ashton to the LEFT you are taking a potential EASTERN bypass route. This runs across open country through Clanger Wood, past Heywood House, and near the old Westbury Cement Works. It crosses the London railway line to the east of the town, then curves right under the northern flank of Salisbury plain passing to the south of the town, before rejoining the A350 towards Upton Scudamore

Taking off from around West Ashton to the RIGHT, you are taking a potential WESTERN bypass. From West Ashton, you need to  pass between Yarnbrook and North Bradley - crossing the railway, then heading south west past Hawkeridge and the northern tip of the West Wilts trading estate, and to the south of Brokerswood and Rudge, alongside the railway line to Frome Market on the A36.

The Eastern route was the one that was put to an enquiry in 2009 and rejected at enquiry in 2009 – much, much more about that route via http://www.passenger.chat/4694.  It offers the benefits of providing a balloon of land between what would be the bypass and Westbury suitable for infill development – problems / issues as outlined by the inspector. It does not go near the West Wilts trading Estate.   Shown in Blue on the map.

The Western route is one that was supported my many who were labelled as "objectors" at the enquiry a decade ago.  It passes very close to the West Wilts trading estate (proving an immediate outlet for the heavy lorries from there to the primary road network) and then on beside the main railway line, and it joins the A36 trunk road at a spot known as "Frome Market". From the West Wilts trading estate to the A36, the route passes though gentle rural countryside, though running it alongside the railway would somewhat reduce the slashing through the countryside.  Shown in orange on the map

A further suggestion made at the meeting in Westbury was to build a road for heavy goods vehicles only from the West Wilts Trading Estate to the A36 - the idea being that this would be very much lower in price than a full bypass, and it would clear the heavy lorries from the centre of Westbury where they (with their shaking, fumes, size and slowness) are regarded as the key problem. Access from Yarnbrook to this HGV relief road would be via the current access to the West Wits trading Estate from that direction.

I understand that Wiltshire Council is strongly proposing re-bidding for the eastern bypass.  A meeting about a month ago  at which their officers made the point that it wasn't the route, but issues along the route, which caused the 2009 rejection, was described virtually universally at the meeting the other night - by very knowledgable people elected by the community - as "disappointing".  I understand that Wiltshire Council's single option forward is the eastern bypass, with issues raised in 2009 all answered to an inspector's satisfaction, and with much of the planning and preparation work that was done at the time re-used.

A suggestion that the Westbury neighbourhood plan should include the western bypass or HGV road was made, but a technically knowledgable audience member pointed out that this route runs through a parish outside of Westbury, and as such a neighbourhood plan to include the route would be rejected during the neighbourhood plan inspection process, rendering the neighbourhood plan unconfirmable.  Indeed, the western route strays out of Wiltshire into a corner of Somerset ... and that means out of the Swindon and Wilshire LEP, and out of the Western Gateway SubNational Transport Body too.  These latter bodies are those set up for the future of strategic development, and crossing out of Wiltshire's borders and out of regional borders too would add a considerable administrative complexity, and perhaps a feeling of reduced enthusiasm by any promoters as it would not be fully "their" scheme.

Looking slightly wider, there is also a primary route on the A361 from Beckington via Frome, which serves Mendip stone quarries amongst other significant heavy traffic. Traffic coming up from the A361 currently can head through Bath (see A36/A46 problems on previous posts), or go through / around Trowbridge. That's one of the purple lines on the map; a cutoff from Southwick to Yarnbrook allows this traffic, using less major roads, to avoid Trowbridge in heading for the A350.   The WESTERN bypass proposal (and indeed the HGV route) would provide a realistic and attractive alternative for traffic from Frome and the Mendip area to the north. The EASTERN bypass could - in theory - take this Frome and Mendip traffic to the north via the A350, but there would be a significant dogleg which would make it very questionable in its attractiveness as an alternative to the road through Southwick.

No conclusions – just documentation of the situation at Westbury.
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