We now know the chosen traffic management plan for the duration of the Evesham Abbey Bridge reconstruction work. As I blogged about last month, there were five options originally considered, of which two went forward for public consultation. One of those has now been selected.
It’s probably no surprise that the chosen option is to use Oat Street, with Mill Street becoming two-way from the junction with Bridge Street to the junction with Oat Street. That was option 4 in the original list, and Option One on the public consultation. It was backed by 65% of those responding to the consultation, as well as being the preferred option of the Town Council.
As well as choosing between the two options in the consultation, respondents were also give the opportunity to make alternative suggestions. Again, it’s probably no surprise that the two most commonly suggested alternative schemes were either to reinstate two-way traffic along Swan lane, or to reverse the flow in Swan Lane and Oat Street (options 2 and 5 in the original documents). These were rejected for essentially the same reasons that they didn’t make it through to the final consultation, as well as opposition from the police and emergency services.
Personally, I think that the right choice has been made. Given that people are more likely to be walking into town than driving while the bridge is closed, keeping Bridge Street free of traffic becomes even more important. And, although it hasn’t, to be honest, been communicated very well to the public, having seen the original plans and heard some further comments from the county’s Highways department I’m convinced that two-way traffic along Swan Lane and reversing the flow are impractical.
There’s one aspect of the plan which hasn’t been decided yet, and that’s what to do with the junction between Mill Street and Mill Bank. Closing the junction between the two will ease traffic flow, as otherwise there would be a need for three-way traffic lights on the corner instead of just two-way lights without it. Against that, closing it will force all traffic that would otherwise use it to reach Workman Bridge to instead go west along Swan Lane to the High Street and then back down Oat Street, thus increasing congestion in that area.
I can see the benefits of both options, but personally I’d prefer the junction to remain open. One of the big advantages of that is that it gives users of Chapel Street car park a route out of the town centre, via Conduit Hill and Mill Bank, during the bridge closure without needing to use the High Street. That particular car park is fairly lightly used at the moment, but if it gave drivers the benefit of avoiding some of the worst of the congestion during the closure then people would be more inclined to use it. And that in turn would benefit traffic flow further west as it would help minimise the pressure on Oat Street. Alternatively, the same could be achieved by extending the two-way section along Chapel Street itself. Either way, I think that minimising the amount of traffic which needs to use Oat Street will be worthwhile.