In October 2010 the new Government held a Comprehensive Spending Review. As part of this review, the Department for Transport are reviewing all the transport schemes from across the country that are asking for funding. All local authority schemes have been placed in one of four categories, a supported, development, pre-qualification and longer term pool . Three of our schemes, the Bath Package, Weston Package and Ashton Vale to Temple Meads Rapid Transit are in the development pool, while the North Fringe to Hengrove Package and the South Bristol Link are in the pre-qualification pool.
The Department for Transport asked for ’expressions of interest’ for all schemes in order that they can reassess the viability and deliverability of the proposals. In the guidance they have advised of the need to look carefully at opportunities to reduce scheme costs and have reminded us that this is a ’competitive process’ so work is in hand to present a strong strategic and technical case for the West of England schemes.
The Best and Final Bids have to be submitted to the DfT by noon on 9 September 2011.
The North Fringe to Hengrove major transport scheme is a proposal for a package of measures worth £102m designed to improve the transport links between residential areas and employment, leisure and retail centres in the area.
The Package is composed of two projects drawn together that will make a positive difference to travelling in the North and East Fringes of Bristol and improve links with the south of Bristol via the city centre.
It aims to tackle congestion and reduce dependency on the car, to improve access to job opportunities, help tackle deprivation and link with the proposed new business and housing developments.
South Gloucestershire Council and Bristol City Council are preparing a joint bid to the Department for Transport for funding to carry out this work. If successful, the bid would give a boost to the local economy by providing a fast, frequent and reliable public transport service linking the areas of Cribbs Causeway, Aztec West and Emersons Green with Bristol city centre and with Hengrove to the south of the city.
Key elements of the project would include:
- Rapid transit routes, including a new direct road link from the ring road (near UWE) to Bradley Stoke (the ‘Stoke Gifford Transport Link’).
- Park & Rides at Emersons Green (near Sainsburys) and near Parkway Station.
- New junction onto the M32 for rapid transit vehicles only, between junction 1 and junction 2.
- Public transport and urban realm improvements to the centre of Bristol
- New bridge over the Avon New Cut for rapid transit, cyclists and pedestrians.
What is rapid transit?
Rapid transit is a fast, frequent and reliable public transport service using modern, accessible, comfortable and low-emission vehicles. The benefits for passengers include:
- Reduced journey times
- Improved ticketing and payment facilities,
- Turn up and go service frequencies and reliable journey times
- High quality stops with facilities like CCTV at stops and real time electronic information
- Modern environmentally friendly vehicles
- High quality walking and cycling links
- High quality, comfortable and accessible vehicles
The bid for funding
The bid will compete against other local authority proposals for funding that is available for major transport schemes across the country.
It is one of five bids being submitted by local authorities in the West of England area. While all the bids are separate, if successful they would work together to provide a direct and efficient transport system for the area.
Consultation has been a very important part of the development of this scheme and input from members of the public and stakeholders has helped form the basis of what we submitted to the Department for Transport in 2010.
An initial consultation on the scheme took place between November 2009 and February 2010. The results of this consultation contributed to the bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) in March 2010. If the DfT approves the scheme there will be further opportunities to have your say as the scheme plans are developed in more detail and before construction starts which could be as early as 2013. The full consultation report on this first stage of work is available to read.
Since then, however, Central Government has announced a reduction in the amount of funding available for transport projects and in order to increase our chances of receiving funding for the scheme we’ve had to make some changes to reduce the costs.
These are as follows:
- The length of separate running lanes for rapid transit services has been reduced and targeted at areas most affected by congestion. This includes a more direct route between Aztec West and Cribbs Causeway.
- The ‘Stoke Gifford Transport Link’ has been kept in the scheme, but the rapid transit lanes have been reduced to key sections on approaches to junctions.
- The Park & Rides at Emersons Green and Parkway Station have been retained but with reduced on-site facilities at Emersons Green and fewer spaces near Parkway Station.
- The M32 Park & Ride is no longer part of the scheme. A bus only junction onto the M32 has been kept in the scheme to provide priority to rapid transit services getting onto and off the motorway. This enables shorter journey times for services to and from the North and East Fringes.
- The proposed bus, cycle and pedestrian bridge over the New Cut has been revised to deliver a more affordable structure whilst still meeting appropriate design criteria.
- Further enhancements to public spaces in the Bedminster district centre have been deferred to be funded from separate sources.
As the work progresses we will inform local resiidents and businesses of our plans and there will be further opportunities to comment. The full range of statutory consultations will also be held.
The North Fringe to Hengrove Package, along with the four other bids being proposed by local authorities in the West of England region, are being submitted as the ‘best and final’ bids to the Department for Transport by 9 September and it is expected that a decision on the results will be announced by the end of the year.
The North Fringe to Hengrove Package links existing housing with business and tackles current traffic and congestion issues, as well as helping to encourage investment into the area.
It is aimed at improving the quality of life for people in the area - tackling congestion, improving road safety, making schools, shops, healthcare and jobs more accessible to people, and improving air quality.
Why are we doing it?The North Fringe to Hengrove package objectives include
- Supporting a buoyant economy, improving quality of life for sub-regional residents and improved local, national and international travel.
- Accelerating the shift to new forms of public transport and realising the associated environmental, climate change, safety and health benefits of such change.
- Reducing congestion and therefore the economic, environmental and health damage that is associated with it.
- Enhancing the chances of regeneration through the linking of areas of economic growth and housing expansion.
- Promoting equality of opportunities through improved connectivity to education, employment, leisure, health and retail facilities.
The process of making a full, detailed, major scheme bid to the DfT has to be completed before the much needed funding is actually granted to the West of England to implement the package.
A report on the package was presented to the Joint Transport Executive Committe in early February 2010 that asked the members of the four authorities to endorse the major scheme bid prior to consideration by Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils.
The interrelated projects which make up the Package are:
|Working together at a strategic level as the West of England Partnership has made local cross council transport schemes such as the £70 million investment in the Greater Bristol Bus Network across the four authorities possible.|
Each council is responsible for the work in their area. The individual councils ( Bristol and South Gloucestershire) will be managing their projects within the package, investigating the options and carrying out the technical work, sharing information and keeping their projects on track. The West of England Partnership is co-ordinating the pulling together of the three projects to form the package.
For more information on the North Fringe to Hengrove Package follow the links to: