West of England Combined Authority (WECA) propose to make big changes to the A4 between Bath and Bristol. They have launched an online consultation which runs until 1st October. We urge you to read this and respond!
The aim of these changes is to give better options for buses, bikes, walking and wheeling.
We are disappointed that these proposals seem to ignore WECA’s Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP4). This identifies the need for a mass transit route between Bristol and Bath.
Of particular concern are the longer term options for the section between Totterdown and Brislington. These involve part of the route of the old North Somerset Railway. We feel strongly that this must be safeguarded for a future rapid transit route.
The proposed longer-term options are:
This option diverts all through traffic along a new two-lane road along the old railway from St Philips Causeway to Callington Road (1), crossing Bath Road near the Lodekka pub (B). A 3km length of the Bath Road from Three Lamps (4) to West Town Lane (A) would close to through traffic. Cyclists would be able to use a new cycleway alongside the new road (1), but could also choose to use a segregated cycleway along the Bath Road.
Bath Road would become a bus route, with planting and other improvements. Local traffic would still be able to access most of the route.
This option splits the A4 into three sections. From Three Lamps to Sandy Park Road (1) the route is largely unchanged, with just a small improvement to a bus lane.
Between Sandy Park Road (2) and Eagle Road, near the Lodekka pub (B), buses would divert along a section of the old railway. This section of the Bath Road (3) would remain open to all traffic.
A new road and cycleway would follow the old railway from Eagle Road to Callington Road (3), diverting through traffic away from Brislington Village (2). Buses would use Bristol Hill and Bath Road (2), where there would also be environmental improvements and a dedicated cycleway.
Which is best?
Bristol Rail Campaign cannot support either option. Any scheme involving the Bath Road and the route of the North Somerset Railway must accommodate a rail-based rapid transit route. Buses, even if described as ‘bus rapid transit’, are unlikely to get people out of their cars.
Both proposed options establish a new road along some or all of the old railway alignment. This would make it far more difficult to use this for any future rail-based rapid transit route.
We favour protecting the old railway for use as a tram-train route. This could connect into the existing rail network from Temple Meads, branching off at a new junction approximately below the Spine Road at Avonmeads. This area is currently poorly served by public transport. The route would then follow the line of the North Somerset Railway to Callington Road, before turning east along Callington Road towards the A4.
A future extension from Temple Meads into the City Centre, similar to those planned for Cardiff Bay, would be essential. A route for this needs to be agreed and safeguarded as a priority.
As an alternative, street-running trams could serve Temple Meads Station and The Centre via Feeder Road.
Transport for Greater Bristol (TfGB) and others have suggested that another route could branch off at Callington Road, heading west along the route of the A4174 towards Hartcliffe. We agree that this would greatly improve transport in South Bristol, and would help to make the case for a more comprehensive rail-based rapid transit system in the West of England.
What about the Greenway?
Plans to use the old railway route as a greenway have had wide support, and many will be disappointed that both WECA’s options see much of the route used as either a busway or a road.
Bristol Cycling Campaign, who strongly supported the greenway plan, now support Option 1 as this gives cyclists the choice of two high-quality cycleways. We see no reason why a cycleway could not be also accommodated alongside a rail-based rapid transit route.
Many will regret losing the opportunity for a greenway. We acknowledge this but think the benefits of a rail-based transport corridor outweigh this.
Onward to Bath
The proposals cover the A4 from Three Lamps in Bristol to Windsor Bridge Road in Bath. In some places continuous bus lanes are proposed. In other areas, like Saltford, ‘very few changes are proposed’. In Bath, the improvements look like little more than tinkering.
Nothing else in these proposals appears to negatively impact a future rail-based rapid transit scheme.
Keynsham Mobility Hub
WECA’s plans include building new bus lanes along the whole length of the A4 Keynsham Bypass. Again we feel this is an strong candidate to become part of a rail-based rapid transit route.
A mobility hub is planned, on the edge of Memorial Park and close to High Street and the train station. WECA say this would allow easy interchange between different types of transport.
We would like details of the pedestrian route from the mobility hub to the station. We suspect that this involves walking along Abbey Close to Station Road before switching back into the station path which runs parallel to this road. This detour of around 130m does not seem likely to encourage interchange between buses and trains.
Have your say!
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