Massive boost for transport a step closer

Local residents and businesses stand to benefit from plans for major transport improvements in South Gloucestershire and surrounding areas, after they took a step closer to becoming reality following a Government announcement yesterday.

The Government has agreed ‘in principle’ funding for a £600 million package of 11 major transport schemes proposed by the West of England Partnership, which includes South Gloucestershire, Bristol City, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset Councils.

Among the schemes to receive backing is the North Fringe to Hengrove Package. This is a major project to provide a rapid transit system linking Bradley Stoke, Emersons Green, Stoke Gifford and Aztec West with Bristol city centre and south Bristol. It will include the Stoke Gifford Transport Link, a new route across the railway line at Stoke Gifford. This Link will relieve the current congestion around the railway bridge near Parkway Station and on surrounding roads.

Overall, the North Fringe to Hengrove Package will speed up journeys and reduce traffic congestion for a large number of South Gloucestershire residents. More than £168million has been put aside for this scheme, which could start in 2013.

The other three schemes which will particularly affect South Gloucestershire residents are the Greater Bristol Bus Network, which has already received funding and is being implemented, and two longer-term projects – the Greater Bristol Metro Rail Project and a rapid transit route from Emersons Green to Temple Meads.

Councillor John Calway, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council and Chair of the West of England Partnership, said:

“The four West of England authorities put forward a very strong case to the Government to convince them of the need for major investment in transport in the area. I am delighted that the Government has understood the importance of these schemes to the region and this announcement is very good news for transport in the area.

“I have no doubt that they will have a hugely positive impact for our residents and businesses.”

Councillor Brian Allinson, South Gloucestershire Council’s executive member for planning, transportation and strategic environment, said he especially welcomed the decision to fund the North Fringe to Hengrove Package.

He said: “South Gloucestershire is an extremely popular place to live and is a major centre for business, but our residents know that this brings with it problems of congestion. The new route over the railway provided by the Stoke Gifford Link, as part of this wider package of improvements, will bring much needed relief to the roads in and around Parkway Station, Bradley Stoke and Stoke Gifford.

“There is still a lot of work to do to bring this scheme to fruition but this announcement is a massive boost for the local area. This transport investment will go a long way to solving some of the issues we face and will improve many people’s quality of life.”

The West of England Partnership’s proposals to the Government were designed to tackle congestion and enhance quality of life by improving road safety, air quality, and access to job opportunities. They were also intended to help people get to school and work more efficiently and strengthen the local economy by ensuring that there are realistic alternatives to car travel.

Current timescales suggest that the Greater Bristol Bus Network could be completed in 2012, the North Fringe to Hengrove Package by 2016, and the Greater Bristol Metro Rail Project and Rapid Transit Emersons Green to Temple Meads by 2019/20.

Source: South Gloucestershire Council

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