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WORK to make alterations to the A350 Farmers Roundabout, near Asda, is expected to begin in late January/early February next year.
The construction period is anticipated to take eight to nine months, bringing traffic management and lane closures to the busy main road.
The alterations 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.
Since the announcement of the works in October 2017, the plans have attracted huge opposition and criticism from the community who have said that the scheme will not work and the £3million being spent on the project is a ‘waste of money.’
Critics blasted the plans to install traffic lights on the roundabout and the failure to not synchronise the traffic lights that control access to McDonald’s and Aldi with the new system and also suggested that the right-turn junction into Asda should be scrapped to ease congestion.
Disappointment was also expressed about the lack of provision in the plans for cyclists, while many local motorists felt that the £3million would be better spent on a new bypass for Beanacre.
However, the community’s feedback was dismissed by the council who said that the right-turn junction into Asda will remain; the traffic signals at McDonald’s will not be linked to the proposed new lights; and the council has no plans to scrap this scheme and build a Beanacre bypass instead.
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “Over recent months we have embarked on the procurement phase of the project, and have gone through a competitive tendering process to identify the preferred contactor to deliver the scheme. We are approaching the conclusion of that process and we hope to be able to announce the successful bidder shortly.
“We have avoided starting in the run up to Christmas, which is something that local stakeholders told us they had preference for, and the intention is that works will be commencing on the ground in late January/early February 2019.
“At this stage we anticipate the construction period being in the order of eight to nine months. However, this will become clearer once we have a contractor in place and they have developed their construction phase programme.”
In April this year, Melksham News reported that potential traffic management plans proposed by Wiltshire Council for the construction period included: • 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.
The Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “Inevitably, works and projects such as this do involve traffic management and lane closures. There is always a difficult balance that needs to be struck between undertaking the works in an efficient, cost-effective and safe manner, while also seeking to minimise disruption to the travelling public, local residents, and stakeholders.
“We will be looking to work closely with the contractor as they develop their construction programme to seek to ensure that they strike an appropriate balance
“We will be updating our dedicated web page for the project once we have further news and information: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/highways-improvements-a350-melksham.”