Opinion: Getting through traffic out of Bristol city centre
Improving other transport methods will help, but what is to be done about the traffic?
Half the traffic cluttering up the roads does not want to be there, it is on its way from one side of the city to the other, but for lack of alternatives is forced through the city centre.
Forbidding all entry to vehicles is to kill trade, but if essential traffic could be retained and through traffic redirected elsewhere, much of the narrow, winding streets of our old city could be reallocated to pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and for environmental improvement like so many continental cites have already so successfully done.
Through traffic is already directed around the eastern, northern and western sides of the centre by overloaded roads, but there is an alternative southern route.
Created by bold 19th century engineers, the 2 miles of The Cut was built with a spacious road on either side and which already links Cumberland Basin Bridges in the west with Bath Bridges at Temple Meads in the east. If re-engineered and used one way either side with suitable new crossing points and arrangements for frontagers, it would offer the necessary route to get the unwanted through traffic out of the city centre.
This has been looked at before and the cost and political challenge has proved too great, but with the government’s new interest in infrastructure and in devolution of power and money and the new studies being undertaken of the city region and of city centre transport, this is an option to be revisited – and maybe the only one available!
Taking this proposal further, Temple Quarter is Bristol’s new and already successful Enterprise Zone with a proposed new Arena which will generate thousands of extra jobs and visitors. It is therefore to have a revised road system at Temple Gate. Whilst this will make a much better junction and release a lot of valuable development land, it will not solve the overloading problem on Temple Way, the eastern side of the existing and already overloaded roads around the city centre.
The alternative is to remove through traffic from Temple Way as well. This could be done by picking up traffic on the M32 at J3 and turning it down St Philip’s Causeway. Its junction with the A4 at present turns east towards Bath, but it could be redesigned to turn west towards The Cut using and improving the section of Bath Road back to Bath Bridges and The Cut.
This will of course be a challenge to achieve, but we need to revisit the bold vision of the 19th century engineers of The Cut if we are to get through traffic out of the city centre, giving us a chance to make it a fit place for us all to enjoy and which Bristolians deserve.