Traffic junction jam busting scheme to be completed in next fortnight
By thepickler | Thursday, April 05, 2012, 14:39
A MULTI million pound scheme to improve congestion at Portishead's gridlocked motorway junction roundabout is to become fully operational in the next two weeks.
North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton, deputy leader and executive member for highways, Elfan Ap Rees plus representatives from the highways department and contractors Halcrow made a visit to the new system to see how it was working.
Work started on the £3 million scheme, jointly funded by the council and the Highways Agency, on junction 19 in the autumn of 2010 and is due to be completed later this month.
The aim of the project is aimed at easing traffic queues at the junction of the A369 and the M5 motorway roundabout - particularly at peak times.
Large queues regularly build up along the Portbury Hundreds and Martcombe Road at rush-hour as people battle to get in and out of Portishead.
The issue of congestion along the A369 - the only main route out of Portishead - has been in the spotlight for several years as Portishead has continued to grow in size.
As part of the scheme, six sets of traffic lights have been put on the approaches to the junction and on the roundabout itself.
Testing is now being carried out on the lights with council chiefs saying the scheme is working well and easing congestion on both routes.
The new lights have been fitted with Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation (MOVA) technology which senses when traffic queues are starting to build.
Mr Ap Rees said: "We are now testing the new traffic lights and early indications are that the new system is exceeding expectations.
"This 'Mova' system enables the traffic lights to sense approaching traffic and queuing, to efficiently programme light changes to clear traffic flows quickly and easily.
"Traffic flows have already improved at junction 19 as a result of the work carried out and by the time all the improvements are complete the misery of prolonged hold-ups for motorists in this area should be a thing of the past."
As a result of the changes, people travelling through the village will no longer be able to turn right from Portbury Lane onto the A369 towards Bristol.
Lights have been put at the junction of Portbury Lane and the A369 and at the junction of the Portbury Hundreds and the roundabout to regulate the flow of traffic coming out of Portishead.
Further lights have been put at the junction of the A369 and the roundabout on the Portbury side and another set of signals installed further up the A369 at the junction of Martcombe Road and St George's Hill.
The additional lights will mean that drivers turning left out of Portbury Lane to get into Bristol along the A369 will have to travel right around the motorway roundabout and encounter six sets of different traffic signals.
A short third lane has also been created on Martcombe Road junction to improve access onto the roundabout and the M5 northbound and a high occupancy vehicle lane created on the A369 between St Georges Hill and Portbury High Street for traffic coming out of Bristol.
The on slip road from Portishead onto the motorway roundabout has also been expanded.