Somerset’s first ‘throughabout’ will be opening in Yeovil next week as the Western Corridor improvement scheme passes another key milestone.
The Western Corridor scheme is a multi-million pound package of improvements by Somerset County Council to increase the capacity of several junctions, reduce congestion and upgrade links for pedestrians and cyclists. It aims to accommodate projected increases in traffic and will also support more than 1,500 homes and 20 hectares of employment land nearby.
The Westlands Roundabout has now been fully upgraded to a signalised ‘throughabout’ and is due to be switched on next Tuesday.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “There are plenty of throughabouts in other parts of the country but this is the first in Somerset so is sure to catch people’s attention.
“It’s actually a very simple design and will greatly improve traffic flow in this location because it provides a quicker, more direct route for traffic travelling both into and out of town.”
The old roundabout was no longer able to cope with the growing volume of traffic using it, so for some time drivers have experienced long delays on the approaches, especially at peak times.
From most directions the new throughabout works like a normal signalised roundabout with the traffic lights helping to balance queues and improve overall journey times.
The added benefit of a throughabout is the lane which cuts through the centre and provides a more direct route for drivers travelling from the A3088 Cartgate Link Road towards Lysander Road (the most common route through the junction). Drivers headed in the opposite direction from Lysander onto the Cartgate can also now bypass the roundabout altogether by using the new lefthand slip lane.
These improvements increase the capacity of the junction and modelling predicts they will reduce future queue lengths down to around 14 cars at peak times, compared with queues of 65 cars if left as a roundabout.
Cllr Woodman added: “This is all about making sure Yeovil’s roads can cope with more traffic, both now and in the future. It will look a little different at first so please pay close attention to the signs, signals and road markings and approach with that little bit of extra care while everyone gets used to it over the next few weeks.”
A spokesman for Alun Griffiths, the contractor which is carrying out the Western Corridor improvements, said: “This is the fourth throughabout that Griffiths have constructed across the country. We therefore understand the initial concerns that road users may have, however in our experience they prove very successful. We would urge drivers to take extra care over the first couple of weeks whilst everyone gets familiar with the improvement.”
Meanwhile, works to upgrade the Copse Road junction and Preston Road Roundabout are continuing, with the new signalised Copse Road junction next to be switched on.
All new junctions are closely monitored over the first few months and traffic lights can be adjusted to ensure they are working as efficiently as possible.
You can read the latest Yeovil Western Corridor newsletters with details of current traffic management and future plans at https://community.alungriffiths.co.uk/projects-in-your-area/yeovil-western-corridor-improvement-scheme/ or follow @TravelSomerset on Twitter for updates. More information on the background to the scheme can be found at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/westerncorridor.
The Western Corridor scheme is expected to cost approximately £14.5m with £6.49m provided by the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Growth Deal fund, approximately £5m from developer contributions through signed Section 106 agreements and approximately £3m from Somerset County Council’s Capital Fund.
The Heart of the South West LEP’s total Growth Deal is worth over £590m; including £239m from Government and £351m match funding. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal: 2015 – 2021; HotSW LEP estimates the investment will create up to 26,930 new jobs and 18,242 new homes; over 59,000 people will be trained under this programme and over 30,000 businesses will have been supported.
“Local Growth Fund”
Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone. That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
Some additional key facts:
- There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
- The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
- LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.