The North Fringe to Hengrove (NFHP) MetroBus Scheme, which will see the construction of new bus lanes on Bradley Stoke Way and the long-awaited implementation of a by-pass for Stoke Gifford has been granted full approval by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The news, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in yesterday’s budget speech, opens the way for construction to start as early as next month.
The Bristol MetroBus (rapid transit) network will consist of three bus routes, all of which have now been granted approval by the DfT:
- Ashton Vale to Temple Meads
- North Fringe to Hengrove Package
- South Bristol Link
According to the TravelWest website: “MetroBus will be an express service, separate from general traffic in places, with faster and more reliable journey times.”
Stoke Gifford councillor Brian Allinson, Chair of the West of England Joint Transport Board, said:
“This is terrific news, MetroBus is a significant part of a £400 million programme of sustainable transport improvements in the West of England until 2020 which will link areas of housing and economic growth, provide greener and better alternatives to travelling by car and as a result reduce traffic congestion and air pollution levels.”
The estimated total cost of the NFHP is £102 million. This includes the cost of delivering the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (the formal name for the by-pass). The funding package includes £51 million from the DfT, £30.5 million from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and £20.5 million from Bristol City Council (BCC).
The Stoke Gifford Transport Link element of the NFHP route was progressed through the planning process as a separate entity, and approval was granted in July 2014. The remainder of the entire NFHP route was submitted for planning determination by both BCC and SGC, approval was granted on 27th August and 9th September 2014 respectively.
The NFHP scheme includes a controversial new bus-only junction on the M32. Plans to future-proof a park and ride facility near the new junction were abandoned during the planning approval process. Protesters opposed to sacrificing high quality agricultural land to build the new junction occupied the site for 40 days but were evicted last week after Bristol City Council was given the backing of the High Court to clear the land.
An informal pre-consultation on the Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) required for the NFHP scheme was carried out between 17th November 2014 and 16th January 2015, attracting 392 responses. No modifications were made to the proposed TRO measures as a result of these responses.
The statutory advertisement period for the Traffic Regulation Orders for Zone 1 of the NFHP scheme (Cribbs Causeway to Bristol Parkway, including the Bradley Stoke Way section) ran from 12th February to 8th March and resulted in one formal objection being made. This has come from a resident of Huckley Way in Bradley Stoke, who says he cannot see the need for more bus lanes on Bradley Stoke Way. An officer report prepared in advance of a meeting of SGC’s Planning, Transport & Strategic Environment Major Schemes Sub-Committee on 25th March recommends that the objection be rejected and the scheme implemented as advertised.
At the planning approval stage, Bradley Stoke town councillors said they would have liked the scheme to include more improvements for general traffic and expressed concern that the opening of the Stoke Gifford by-pass will lead to increased traffic levels on Bradley Stoke Way as motorists seek alternative routes between the Almondsbury Interchange and MoD Abbeywood.
Opponents of the three Bristol MetroBus schemes claim they will be a short and long term financial burden on the two councils, do little to reduce traffic levels and put existing local bus services under threat.
According to the final approval document submitted to the DfT, the main construction work on the NFHP scheme will take place between June 2015 and July 2017, with services set to start in “late summer 2017”.
More information and related links:
- Metrobus (TravelWest)
- North Fringe Rapid Transit (The Journal)
- NFHP full approval documents submitted to DfT (TravelWest)
- Alliance to Rethink Metrobus
- RisingUp (MetroBus protest group)
- Agenda for SGC meeting on 25th March
Above: MetroBus routes (click to enlarge).
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