You can read the complete newsletter here.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday (23 June), I wanted to update you on how my team have been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also continuing to deliver our major transport schemes and essential maintenance programmes.
Working with colleagues across the Council we helped to ensure outdoor shopping spaces, like the town centre, were safe for you to visit when non-essential retailers re-opened last week. Clear signage was put up and shared spaces are being regularly cleaned. College Street, near Tesco Metro, remains closed until further notice to allow safe queuing systems to continue.
We’ve also supported the opening of a regional COVID-19 testing centre at the Wroughton Park and Ride site and the re-opening of the Household Waste Recycling Centre.
Initial bids have been submitted to the Government to help improve our transport links in some of our most rural villages and to help us to become the country’s first Electric Bus Town. We will be asked to submit further plans if our initial bids are successful.
As a reminder, it is still compulsory to wear a face covering if you have to make an essential journey on public transport. There are some exemptions to wearing masks, more information about this can be found on the Stagecoach West and Swindon’s bus company websites. Where you can, please also consider using the 100km of cycle paths and walking instead.
Head of Highways and Transport
Bid submitted to become first Electric Bus Town
We hope to secure funding from the Department for Transport to become the country’s first Electric Bus Town. Our bid, in partnership with Swindon’s Bus Company and Stagecoach West was submitted in June, and if successful, the money will be used to pay for a brand new fleet of electric buses and infrastructure, reducing emissions and cleaning up the air in Swindon. One electric bus will save 15.5 tonnes of Nitrogen Oxide and 32.2 tonnes of CO2 per year.
We hope to find out if we have been chosen for phase two of the selection process in the next few months.
Improving rural connections
A new, flexible form of public transport that focuses on passenger need rather than routes and timetables could connect residents in rural parts of the borough.
We’ve submitted two bids worth £1.05m each, to Government, to improve public transport links for residents in villages like Castle Eaton, Hannington, Inglesham, Chiseldon, Liddington and Wanborough. At the moment they have few frequent, reliable, registered local bus services they can depend on in order to get to work, attend hospital appointments or for social and leisure activities.
The new services would connect the rural villages to places like the Orbital Retail Park, Great Western Hospital, Swindon Railway Station and the town centre. Vehicles used to provide this new service could be a bus, minibus or taxi.
We will be invited to develop more detailed plans with the Department for Transport if our initial bid is successful.
The new service would also help to reduce the number of vehicles on local roads and improve air quality.
Building the Wichelstowe Southern Access road under the M4
Following the recent overnight closures, three lanes of motorway traffic have now been moved onto a temporary embankment between Junctions 15 and 16 of the M4 and a 50mph speed restriction is in place. Average speed cameras have been installed for the safety of our workers.
Further night time closures are planned to take place on 6-8 July, to allow us to move the eastbound lanes across the motorway, next to the temporary westbound lanes.
Doing this will give the contractor a sufficient working area to build the northern section of the underpass, while keeping traffic flowing.
The work to build a new access road underneath the M4 motorway will help support 4,500 new homes, the new district centre and will also unlock 12.5 hectares of employment land, supporting around 2,000 new jobs.
Increasing capacity along Mead Way
£4m is being invested to upgrade Mead Way, a key route which connects residential areas of North and West Swindon with major employment areas and the town centre. Work has continued on this project during lockdown, with teams adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Just some of the improvements being made are:
- An additional lane going northbound from Meads roundabout (on Great Western Way) to Withymead roundabout (by Simply Gym and Kidz About)
- Mead Way resurfaced between Meads and Withymead roundabouts
- The roundabout at Westmead Drive and Stonehill Green junction converted into a signalised crossroad junction with a toucan crossing for pedestrians to cross Westmead Drive
- Street lighting upgraded
Upgrading White Hart roundabout
White Hart roundabout is currently reduced to one lane for the next seven weeks between 7:30am-6pm as part of a £30m upgrade to the junction. Improvement work will also take place on the southbound A419 slip-road towards the end of the seven weeks. This work will be at night to minimise disruption to motorists.
White Hart is just one of the junctions we’re upgrading. As part of a £72.5m investment, over the next few years we will also be improving Gablecross junction, Piccadilly roundabout, a section of Oxford Road at Nythe Road junction, as well as creating a new Southern Connector Road which will join the A419 near the Great Western Hospital.
These vital upgrades will make sure we have increased capacity on our roads before 8,000 new homes, schools and employment spaces are built as part of the New Eastern Villages development to the east of the A419.
Additional parking for visitors of the Outlet centre
From Monday (29 June) we will begin updating signage along Kemble Drive, Rodbourne Road, Park Lane, Faringdon Road and Emlyn Square to improve directions to Bristol Street car park. This is to help reduce traffic around the Outlet Centre on more popular shopping days and when events are held by directing people to additional car parking.
Increasing safety measures along Thames Avenue
The Traffic Management and Road Safety teams have been working with Greenmeadow Primary School to design new road signs that encourage drivers to reduce their speed along Thames Avenue.
186 designs were submitted and two winners have had their designs installed on Thames Avenue at the junction off Whitworth Road.
Exploring Swindon on two wheels
Whether you’re a keen cyclist who wants to find a new route or you’re new to two wheels, there are plenty of resources available on the Swindon Travel Choices website, including:
- Swindon cycle map covering over 100km of cycle paths
- Maps of the Swindon Rounds, a series of short circular traffic free routes that you can cycle, walk or jog
- Details of the Swindon Flyer routes
You can also read the Cycling Highway Code here.
Making our roundabouts safer
We have successfully completed the Drakes Way safety scheme which saw the renewing of the existing road markings and signs on the roundabout. We have also reduced the speed limit of the roundabout to 30mph to try and help reduce approaching speeds. This site was highlighted in our Road Traffic Collision Review last year. This, along with the New Inn Roundabout improvement scheme, aim to make Swindon’s roundabouts safer.
Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)
Hook Street, Wroughton
The road is closed until Sunday (28 June) for resurfacing.
High Street, Wroughton
Two-way traffic lights are in place today (26 June) and tomorrow. Wales & West will be returning to site to permanently reinstate some previous emergency temporary works.
Four-way traffic lights will be in place next week (29 June – 3 July) to allow Wales and West to lay new service pipes.
Shrivenham Road, Highworth
Two-way traffic lights will be in place from 8-14 July to allow Thames Water to carry out a new water connection.
Wanborough Road, Stratton St. Margaret
Wanborough Road will be closed from 6-21 July so that water connections can be installed for the new development.
Church Road, Wanborough
A road closure will be in place from 6-31 July to allow Wales and West to replace gas mains.
You can also take a look at our interactive map which provides details of all roadworks across the borough, and indicates which agencies are carrying out the work