A370 repairs could case major traffic delays on busy route to Bristol
Drivers and bus users could face major delays if plans to reduce the Long Ashton bypass near Bristol to one lane of traffic for two and a half months go ahead.
North Somerset Council is spending £198,000 on essential maintenance work at Kennel Farm Bridge.
The work was due to start this week and could see the bypass reduced to one lane of traffic – controlled by 24-hour temporary lights – for ten weeks.
But it has been temporarily put on hold after bus operators First, Bristol City Council and local residents raised concerns at the traffic chaos and congestion it could cause.
Local people fear the bypass could become a massive car park with fed-up motorists diverting through Long Ashton or the already narrow and congested Barrow Gurney as an alternative route into the city.
North Somerset Council has now agreed to revisit its traffic management plan to see how congestion on the busy route – which is used by around 20,000 vehicles a day – can be avoided.
Long Ashton councillor Bob Cook said: “If there is a problem on the bypass it normally means more traffic coming through the village.
“I understand the repairs and roadworks need to be done but I am concerned about the congestion on the bypass it could cause and the knock-on effect on the village. Long Ashton is not designed to take such a volume of traffic – that is why the bypass was built in the first place.
“If the work needs to be done, perhaps the council should ask contractors to work through the night to avoid disruption and get the repairs completed as quickly as possible.”
The work to the bridge will include replacing the expansion joints and bridge deck waterproofing, replacing the road surface and re-painting the parapets.
It is understood that North Somerset Council is now looking at using the one lane over Kennel Farm Bridge for outbound traffic while inbound traffic will be diverted off the A370 at the Long Ashton slip road, rejoining the road further up beyond the bridge.
First spokeswoman Karen Baxter said: “Our team did raise some concerns with North Somerset Council about the original proposal to close all but one lane of the A370 around the Kennel Farm Interchange Bridge while essential bridge works were completed.
“Following the meeting we have been informed that there will be a change to the original proposal.
“We are more comfortable with this approach.
“We would, however, advise all our customers using bus services between Bristol and destinations in North Somerset to allow extra time for important journeys from October 1 until the works are completed as we would anticipate that the road works may still cause some delay to bus services.”
North Somerset Council spokeswoman Zoe Briffitt said: “Following concerns which have been raised we are going to revisit our traffic management plan for this scheme. No formal decisions have been made.”
North Somerset Council deputy leader and executive member for transport Elfan Ap Rees said: “While there will inevitably be delays we will do all we can to minimise them.”
A city council spokesman said: “We are working with North Somerset Council on its traffic scheme to minimise delays for commuters and will monitor it when it is introduced.”
For information on roadworks in the area visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/roadworks.