Lights switch-off scheme will not be permanent move - Gloucestershire Highways chiefs
PROPOSALS to switch off a set of traffic lights in Cheltenham to improve traffic flow have been rejected.
Lights in St Margaret's Road, near The Brewery, were covered up by Gloucestershire Highways workers in December as part of a three-week trial to alleviate the stop-start effect created by the many sets of traffic signals along the busy route.
Motorists said the experiment, supported by the borough council, went some way to improving traffic flow at the site, which is blighted by long queues at rush hour.
It had been hoped that the trial might have paved the way for the lights to be switched off on a permanent basis.
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But Gloucestershire County Council has now said – amid concerns over pedestrian safety – the trial was not set to be repeated in the near future.
Motorists voiced disappointment at the news.
Matthew Grove, 33, who uses the road regularly to get to and from work in Cheltenham, said: "There are so many sets of traffic lights as you go along that road – you get a real stop-start effect.
"Getting rid of some of the lights seems like an obvious way to cut down on queues."
Taxi driver Dave Hayes, from Charlton Kings, said the trial switch-off had been a significant improvement. "I thought it worked very well," he said. "It seemed to improve traffic flow, which makes a big difference when you're in our line of work."
Jeremy Williamson, director of Cheltenham Development Task Force, which is examining ways to improve traffic flow through the town, said it was difficult to make an in-depth comment on the county council decision until he had seen results of the trial. But he added that concerns from pedestrians had been anticipated as part of the temporary scheme and that he still had hopes a plan to improve congestion on the route could be resurrected.
He said: "I am hopeful that Gloucestershire County Council will work with the task force to consider both medium and longer term alternatives – particularly in the light of the North Place development scheme."
Chris Riley, of Gloucestershire Highways, said: "The trial was very informative and motorists felt an improved flow in the traffic.
"However, pedestrians and cyclists experienced more difficulty in crossing the road. The data collected during the trial did not show a significant improvement in journey times so in light of this there are no plans at present to make this a permanent scheme."