By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter / firstname.lastname@example.org
Work is set to begin on the Fishponds Road route this week, as part of the £78-million Greater Bristol Bus Network project.
The authority believes the changes – which includes a priority lane for buses – will improve congestion in the area but businesses are concerned their trade will be affected by the loss of parking spaces.
Residents and traders collected a petition with more than 2,000 signatures opposing the plans, and called on the council to extend consultation so their views could be given further consideration.
But the council rejected this appeal, and last week decided to go ahead with the work.
The decision, made by executive member for transport Tim Kent and strategic director for neighbourhoods and city development Graham Sims, has been condemned.
Ward councillor Lesley Alexander (Conservative, Frome Vale) said: “Many local people are beside themselves with rage over this mad decision.
“Bristolians across the city will be outraged to learn that this bus showcase fiasco is costing the taxpayer a whopping £1.9 million to improve travel times by a princely 35 seconds. It is an absolute colossal waste of public money.
“In any event, genuine consultation implies that this will be a two-way process whereby people can put forward suggestions to alter, improve or lessen the negative impact of these plans.
“Instead, this exercise has been shown to be a sham with our concerns simply ignored by the executive member in charge of transport and the traffic planners in the GBBN team.”
Mrs Alexander wants the decision reversed before work starts on Thursday.
But Mr Kent says the council did listen and had made a number of changes to the route as a result.
He said: “Improving the Greater Bristol Bus Network in order to make travelling by public transport quicker, easier and more attractive is a key priority for the council.
“We have listened closely to concerns raised about the loss of parking spaces and the impact of the proposed works on Fishponds.
“As a result, we have relaxed some of the parking restrictions and further work is being carried out to see if a few additional parking spaces can be reinstated in Fishponds.
“However, we believe that the work will not have the sort of negative impact on the area that is feared.
“This is certainly the evidence from other areas, such as St George, where improvement work has already been carried out.”
The first phase of work will involve changes to the Fishponds Road/Muller Road junction by Eastville Park.
Starting on Thursday this work will last for eight weeks and will take place mainly during the summer holidays to minimise disruption.
Work will then start at the Fishponds Road/Lodge Causeway junction on Sunday, August 7 over eight weeks.
These works are designed to improve flow and reduce congestion along Fishponds Road, while also providing improved pedestrian crossings.
The junctions will be linked by a fibre optic cable to the council’s urban traffic control system, which, together with an extensive CCTV network, will give council officers the ability to actively monitor and manage traffic conditions and react to any problems that may emerge along the highways network.
There will be other work commencing along Fishponds Road and Stapleton Road from the middle of August onwards.
n Full details of these works, and a copy of the consultation report, can be found on the city council website www.bristol.gov.uk/publictransport.