AT last - major improvements at Gloucestershire’s busiest roundabout are set to happen.
A park and ride for 1,000 vehicles, junction improvements and more bus priority measures are on the way to cut congestion on the three lane Elmbridge Court roundabout.
It’s a key junction on the A40 for Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds and Cheltenham traffic and improvements have been called for, for more than a dozen years.
A planning application has been submitted by Gloucestershire County Council for its estimated £16.5 million Elmbridge Transport Scheme.
Commuters who sit in long queues every day are hopeful it will be complete as soon as possible.
“It’s been ages since this was first knocked about and if you ask anyone in a queue around that roundabout, they will tell you it needs some big changes,” said commuter Pete Smith, who travels from the Newent area to Cheltenham five days a week.
It’s also one of the county’s most dangerous junctions, with dozens of collisions recorded by Crashmap.com there since 2005.
In December 2011, the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded Gloucestershire County Council £14.1m towards building the so-called Elmbridge Transport scheme.
A consultation was carried out with residents early in 2013 and the county council’s cabinet agreed the scheme could be progressed later that year.
The scheme includes major junction improvements at Elmbridge Roundabout, bus priority measures to improve services between Cheltenham and Gloucester and a 1,000-vehicle park and ride at Elmbridge Court on a seven hectare site.
The project includes the construction of a new bus gate and bus lane on the A40 westbound carriageway as it approaches the Arle Court Roundabout at the Cheltenham end of the Golden Valley road.
The changes are designed to encourage commuters to use buses instead of cars, to reduce congestion and cut vehicle emissions.
If all goes to plan, the park and ride site and improvements are likely to be complete by Autumn 2016. Costs over and above government funding would be met primarily from developer contributions, the council says.
The application will be assessed independently by the council’s planning committee.
Councillor Will Windsor Clive, cabinet member for planning and infrastructure, said: “This work forms part of our wider plans to improve the transport system in the county over the next few years.
“There’s no doubt that this project will give the local construction industry a massive boost and, more generally, it signifies a long-term investment in the local economy designed to help the county to grow and thrive.”
In March 2013 when the city council’s planning committee was consulted on it, it was hoped the scheme would be completed by 2015.
It’s an improvement that has been called for, for more than a dozen years.
In 2001, Gloucester City Council, Gloucestershire County Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council appointed a consultant to assess seven possible new sites for park and rides to the east, north and west of Gloucester.
They were opposite Highnam Court at the A48/A40 junction, Linton Farm opposite the A40/B4215 junction, Richard's Wood off the Over Causeway on Alney Island, Drymeadow Farm at Innsworth off the A40 Northern Bypass, the DEFRA site off the Elmbridge Court roundabout, he Gloucester business park link road site, and Henly Bank, on the A46 at Brockworth. The Elmbridge site was favoured by consultants Halcrow.
In 2005 a scheme which included a park and ride at Elmbridge Court was proposed, but was shelved in 2010 by the Department of Transport, as a cost cutting measure.
A parkway railway station as part of that development was dropped too.
A decision by the planning committee is expected this summer, with design, procurement and funding approval by next Spring. Then construction work would start in Summer 2015, and it would be ready by Autumn 2016.