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PLANS have been unveiled for improvements to be made to the A350 Farmers Roundabout near Asda. A new traffic signalling system, more lanes and extensive carriageway repairs will ‘reduce queues and improve journey times’ says Wiltshire Council.
Work is expected to begin next winter and it is estimated that the improvements will take eight to nine months to complete. Whilst work is ongoing there will be temporary traffic lights, lane closures during off-peak hours and full road closures at night.
The plans were presented to the town council this week by Wiltshire Council’s highway improvement officer, Stephen Wilson, at a community development committee meeting. He explained that the current infrastructure of the roundabout is ‘coming to the end of its lifespan.’ The improvements will include: • New traffic light signalling. • Increased space around the roundabout by building into the existing island. • More lanes approaching the roundabout and around it. • Extensive carriageway repairs. • Repairs to the Western Way.
Stephen Wilson said, “We are going to be developing new road space, so there will be more tarmac out there to create more capacity, we need to get more vehicles through the junction. To improve the use of the junction, and to control it, a traffic signal system will come into place. It’s going to be a partial system, not all the arms of the roundabout will be signalised. But we’re bringing the traffic signals in to maximise the through-flow of traffic.
“The traffic signal system will be linked with the Asda junction and the signals at the A365. That doesn’t mean that they’re all going to be turning green simultaneously, but there will be a series of sensors in the road and the traffic controller will detect where queues build up and will change the signals accordingly. This is a real time responsive system.
“As well as new infrastructure and new road space, we’re also going to be trying to make better use of the existing road space. Some traffic lanes are being under utilised at the moment, so we are going to be changing some of the lane mitigations and we are going to be getting more out of what is there at the moment.
“We’ll be coming forward with some infrastructure improvements. The drainage – I was shocked looking at the drainage network out there, the drainage goes into the River Avon catchment area, but there is no petrol interceptor. So if there was a major spill, there is nothing stopping that contamination going into the main river. So as part of these works, we’ll be addressing this. The curbs and splitter islands need a lot of attention and we’ll be doing that and the carriageway resurfacing will be extensive. There will also be clearer road markings to guide people around the roundabout in the correct lane.”
Improvements will also be made to Western Way, the road connecting Farmers Roundabout with Semington Roundabout. Plans include improving the exit from Semington Roundabout onto Western Way, and new street lighting and repairs to Challymead Bridge, which is showing signs of structural deterioration caused by water damage.
While the work is being carried out, Wiltshire Council anticipates the following: • Temporary traffic signals at both Asda and A365 junctions. • No works during weekday peak hours involving lane closures. • Lane closures during weekday off peak period 9.30am – 3.30pm. • Contractors encouraged to work evenings post 6.30pm and possibly weekend working. • Night time working will be needed – including full road closures. • Identifying potential embargos for some works – such as Melksham Carnival and other events in the town.
“Traffic management is going to be key and it’s going to be difficult,” said Stephen Wilson, “it’s going to be a difficult scheme to pull together and to manage. We need to balance the need to do the works efficiently and in a timely manner with the needs of the highway users. That’s a very difficult balance to achieve.”
In response to the presentation, Mayor, cllr Adrienne Westbrook said, “It’s going to be a logistical nightmare, but that said, hopefully at the end of it we’ll have the finished product that you are showing us.
“As a town council we are so excited at the possibility of these splitter islands being sorted, this is the gateway to our town and at present it is disgusting. Weeds 3ft to 6ft high are horrendous. Any works done need to be beneficial to the town and its gateway.
“Please can Wiltshire Council liaise with us about what is going to be done?”
A contractor for the project is expected to be selected in the late summer. Wiltshire Council will be launching a dedicated website for the works in the near future and can be contacted by email: A350farmersimprovements@wiltshire.gov.uk