There is a proposal (perhaps slightly more than a proposal now!) for a bypass to take traffic on the A350 road that heads North - South through Wiltshire out of the town of Westbury and route it to the east of the town, quite close to the Westbury White Horse.
I had a chance to pop in to an exhibition in Westbury while it was open to the public yesterday. It was very well and professionally laid out and the case for the bypass was persuasively presented. And that is exactly as you would expect from a show laid on by the supporters of the plan, including the consultants and council who are advocating it.
I come from a town that's a few miles north on the A350 (Melksham) , and I'm worried that improvements to the route of the A350, such as a Westbury Eastern bypass, will draw new traffic even above any natural growth into the area, and onto feeder roads. The exhibition's diagrams confirmed that such a draw of extra traffic is expected - it shows a 42% rise in HGV traffic on this trunk road heading north out of the area, beyond the bypass.
Speaking with two of the experts present, I understand that the various studies on the road impact that were being shown have only looked as far north as the Semington Roundabout - still several miles south of Melksham. And that worries me, as I can imagine places such as Beanacre and the North Melksham area going into gridlock if the majority of the extra HGV traffic tries to get through there on existing, unimproved roads.
I was down in Exeter at a public enquiry on Tuesday (first time I've even been to one!) and shocked at the 200 to 300 million figures that came up for improving the A350 all the way from Warminster to the motorway. A more managed approach, and making full use of the parallel rail corridor - maintained to mainline standards, but with just 2 passenger trains a day (07:00 and 19:35 from Westbury) and existing earthworks if it needed to be doubled to take more freight would be a much more sensible option.
What is needed, then? Some improvements and perhaps extra road sections for sure, looking at critical points between the M4 motorway and Warminster as a whole. But not a major upgrade that sucks an extra 42% in from surrounding areas. And that in association with the train improvements.
Someone commented to me that a bypass - in 20 years, if fossil fuel runs out, would be a superb cycle path for anyone who wants to see the countryside on the northern flank of Salisbury Plain. (written 2007-06-29, updated 2007-07-06)
|John:||I agree with your comments, Graham, and with improvements to our train services. I think that the track should be dualled, especially where it was previously, and I think that there needs to be good road access to the stations. Thank you for your contribution to the EiP. May I suggest that the eastern Westbury bypass is thankfully now rather less of a viable proposal than WCC would have previously had us believe.|
(comment added 2007-07-26 21:24:00)
|John:||This site: http://www.westbury-wilts-bypass.info/ has a couple of new pages particularly about improving our railways, which supplement the case which I have argued for some time, that a decent direct access road to the Westbury railway hub ought to be a priority - and would help all round. |
(comment added 2007-07-31 13:44:47)
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