Dorchester Street closure plan could cause ‘huge’ traffic increase

Plans to close Dorchester Street to through-traffic could result in a 27% increase in the number of cars passing through Widcombe, figures released by Bath and North East Somerset Council have revealed.

Conservative councillors, who uncovered the figures, have criticised B&NES for keeping residents in the dark about the impact a traffic ban on Dorchester Street could have on other roads.

A preliminary study by the council has shown that traffic on the A36 Pulteney Road could increase from anywhere between 20% and 27% at peak times, depending upon which scheme the council chooses to implement.

The increase in traffic would be equivalent to nearly 400 additional vehicles using Pulteney Road, Rossiter Road and Widcombe Parade every hour at peak times.

The idea of closing Dorchester Street to through-traffic was first put forward by the authority’s ruling Liberal Democrat councillors last year. However, the plans are currently on hold whilst the Council undertakes further work on traffic modelling. Options under consideration include closing Dorchester Street entirely to all vehicles except buses and taxis, or permitting some cars into Dorchester Street and Manvers Street for access only.

Conservative councillors have warned that the Council must do more to consult with residents in areas which would be affected by the proposal before taking a final decision on the plans. They have also raised concerns that the increase in traffic could impact upon plans for the long-awaited Rossiter Road scheme.

Cllr Tim Warren, Conservative shadow spokesman for Transport, said:

“These figures reveal that closing Dorchester Street to cars entirely would have a huge impact on the A36 through Widcombe. Twenty Seven per cent is a very big increase in traffic, and this number of extra vehicles using Pulteney Road at peak time could bring this whole stretch of the A36 practically to a standstill.

“We’re concerned that the Liberal Democrats haven’t thought this plan through properly and haven’t been open about the impact closing Dorchester Street would have on residents and businesses in Widcombe, including those along Widcombe Parade.

“What’s especially worrying is that such a large increase in traffic could have an impact on plans for the long-awaited Rossiter Road scheme, as the whole design is based upon very sensitive traffic modelling.

“Once the Council has completed its full assessment of options for Dorchester Street, the results should be released to the public to comment on before any final decisions are made.”