Dorset Council engineers have played down fears that the new cycle route along Le Neubourg Way in Gillingham will make it very hard for residents of Church View to drive out of their estate.
Two Church View residents, Jane Price and Anne Kings, have lobbied the council to alter the road layout, which they fear could see them become virtual ‘prisoners’ because of the flow of traffic in either direction.
But a spokesperson for the council, who are carrying out the works, said their analysis of the road suggested there would not be problems for drivers making a right-hand turn out of Church View.
‘The traffic modelling does not anticipate any delays for vehicles entering and exiting Church View,’ said the spokesperson.
‘The traffic counts do not show a heavy enough right turn into Church View to require a right turn lane. The signalised junction at Waitrose will provide natural gaps in the traffic from the all red phase and pedestrian crossing stages. Vehicles on Le Neubourg Way approaching the traffic signals at Waitrose will be slowing down and are likely to be more inclined to let vehicles out of Church View if they see them waiting.’
The council conceded that the loss of a traffic island on the road would disappoint some. ‘The new signals provide a left-turn filter lane into the Waitrose junction which requires the full road width available in the location where the island was. The dedicated left-turn lane will help reduce delays to straight through traffic,’ said the spokesperson.’
They continued: ‘The island near the junction with Church View was removed as part of the Waitrose Junction works. We appreciate that it was a well-used crossing and that it will a disappointment to some users, however if it were to remain it would be too close to the new traffic signalled crossing at Waitrose Junction. The guidance requires a minimum distance of 100m between crossing features. The new crossing will only require a short diversion of 40metres and will be signal controlled which provides a safer facility.’
Dorset Council also addressed concerned about the ‘mess’ left on the bank outside Church View by the roadworks, with only one section being given a retaining wall. The amount of retaining wall has been adjusted and the original grass bank recreated where possible as it gives a ‘softer less imposing feel’, it says.
‘The section from Waitrose to Church View was not as bad as expected and the retaining structure requirement was able to be removed. The short section of retaining structure that has been removed from the scheme by the west side of the public footpath was initially proposed to prevent the removal of two very poor trees, which were growing out towards the carriageway at an angle – but it meant that they would have been unstable if the retaining wall had been built, as it would have required cutting the bank back closer to their trunks,’ said the spokesperson.
The trees that have been felled were in good health, but because of root damage, they were unstable, the council says. ‘We have cut them to just above ground level, in effect coppicing them, so that they will re-sprout from the base of the trunks. Within a 12-18 month period they will look like large shrubs and will thicken out. These trees are actually large, overgrown shrubs and they will re-grow fairly quickly. As they do so, they will make new root growth which will stabilise them over time. There are a few small gaps within the planted area which should allow wildflowers to return,’ added the spokesperson.