Aztec West and A38 road improvement scheme branded a “complete failure”

Photo of traffic signals at a pedestrian crossing over the exit slip road from the Aztec West Business Park.

The recently completed £4.5 million project to reduce congestion and install pedestrian crossing points at the Aztec West Roundabout has been branded a “complete failure” by one motorist who says the new road layout has added half-an-hour to the time it takes him to exit the Aztec West Business Park each evening.

In an email to the Journal, the commuter, who we have chosen not to name, talks about the “environmental catastrophe” of cars queuing around the entire loop road of the business park and says the issue has seriously affected his quality of life because he no longer gets home in time to see his children before they go to bed.

As previously reported, and corroborated by many other readers, the main issue appears to be the throttling effect of traffic signals at a new pedestrian crossing on the slip road between the business park exit and the A38 northbound.

In an effort to beat the queues, frustrated drivers exiting the business park are using the wrong lanes and then cutting in at the last minute to reach the left filter lane onto the A38. Some of them are even continuing onto the roundabout using the lanes designated for Bradley Stoke and then making a left turn onto the A38, thereby by-passing the troublesome left filter lane. In doing so they cause a hold up that prevents the people in the correct lane from being able to make progress when the lights turn green.

“In short, these road updates have been a complete failure. Occasionally there was traffic like this before the changes, usually for a good reason such as a motorway accident, but it was never for three consecutive days in a row [as experienced in the first week of January] with no incidents in sight,” adds the commuter.

But it is not just business park users who are affected. Another reader contacted us later in January, on a day when unusually long tailbacks had developed throughout Bradley Stoke during the afternoon peak, to say that he believed there is also an issue with the timing of the traffic signals at the M5 J16 roundabout. In his opinion, these appear to have been altered in a way that reduces the flow of traffic onto the roundabout from the A38 northbound, thereby exacerbating the issues at Aztec West and beyond.

Following previous incidents, South Gloucestershire Council said that it was carrying out ongoing investigations into the signal operation and traffic flow at Aztec West, but in a new statement (see below) it now appears to be shifting the blame towards signal timings at the M5 J16 roundabout, which are the responsibility of Highways England.

Statement from South Gloucestershire Council

“We have carried out a considerable amount of work investigating and assessing the area around the Aztec West signalised junction, both on our own network and through discussions with Highways England (who maintain the signals at junction 16 M5). We are aware of traffic queues along the A38 (N), the route out of Bradley Stoke and within the Business Park, and that these occur during the evening peak period.”

“We have also received information that some vehicles using the Aztec West junction are doing so in a way that is considered unsafe, which we will pass on to the police.”

“There is no intention to disable any of the traffic signals at this junction.”

“We do not have access to any traffic signals data from Highways England, who manage the signals at junction 16. We have, however, met with colleagues at Highways England to seek improvements in traffic flows at the junction. Highways England are looking at the efficiency of the junction and seeking to gain capacity by looking at timings of their signals. We are also working with Highways England to explore and consider any other options that may help improve traffic flows through the junction.”

“The work recently carried out by the council was to improve the A38 southbound link from junction 16 of the M5 to the Aztec West roundabout. Information about the scheme can be found on our website”

Email from a frustrated commuter (further extracts)

“South Gloucestershire Council should be bold enough to recognise that their expensive solution isn’t working, and revert at least some of the bad solutions they are responsible for implementing. Perhaps disabling the traffic lights on the left filter lane may help to restore the balance, but I am no expert, I am just a very dissatisfied end-user.”

“It may seem a minor inconvenience to them to hear these complaints. It may seem acceptable to state that the contractor is responsible, or the sequence of lights is not fully synchronised with neighbouring roundabouts, but is undergoing continual improvement. Surely the sequencing of lights would have been one of the most important studies they would have completed, with trial runs and temporary lights, to prove the solution works before embarking on such an expensive project. Why is it taking so long to get this right now?”

“Their apathy in this matter directly affects people’s lives, the ability to see their families after work, and health. It should be a much higher priority for them.”

Reader emails:

Previous articles on this topic from the BSJ:

Related links:

Photo: Traffic signals at a pedestrian crossing over the exit slip road from the Aztec West Business Park to the northbound A38.

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 12 & 13). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

UPDATE (17th February 2018):

Issues surrounding the traffic lights at Aztec West will be discussed at a meeting of the Bradley Stoke, Stoke Lodge and The Common (east of A38) Community Engagement Forum on Thursday 22nd February 2018 at Patchway Common Pavilion, The Avenue, Patchway, Bristol BS34 6BD (7pm start). Meeting agenda.

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  1. The situation with the lights and getting out of Aztec Business Park is beyond awful. Even when I leave at 18.00 I can be queuing for up to an hour to get out of the park. The lights filtering out that lead onto the lane to get on the southbound motorway are alway in green for around 13 seconds and the other lights average around 34 seconds. This causes congestion within the park and I know of several colleague who have got new jobs out of Aztec to get away from these congestion problems.

  2. Please can something be done to stop people from using the left hand lane at the lights, when exiting the Aztec West Park, instead of using the slip road, which is purposely there for traffic turning left. They are creating a hazard for people trying to get across the roundabout, because they are blocking the traffic, and I have had to stop in the middle of the yellow box on several occasions, because traffic in front of me use that lane to turn left and they in turn block my exit. I am finding I am having to go to the next lane across on my right in order to avoid those blocking the roundabout, and once past them, I then have to manoeuvre back across to the left hand lane, as I have to be on the far left hand lane at the other side of the roundabout, to turn left, heading toward towards the Hilton Hotel.

    Kind regards

  3. I have been commuting from Stoke Gifford’s new rail depot to Cardiff for 2 years now. Since the completion of the works the journey times from the depot to the M4 have increased from 20 mins to 1 hr at 16:30, to make any decent time I have leave work at 15:30 to guarantee I’m home at a reasonable hour which is far from acceptable given my minimum required hours of work. This scheme is by far one of the worst I have ever seen and has only increased congestion.

    To relive this I have tried the train, I waited 45 mins to get a bus only 2 miles to the station, it didn’t arrive so I walked.

    Bristol – A city short on planning, Short on ideas and big on Promises and failure

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