Major road improvement works in Plymouth city centre will begin this month.
As the city centre expands and exciting developments like Drake Leisure and The Box near completion, work will be carried out to ensure that the city’s road network can cope with all the extra traffic.
So what’s actually happening and when?
The main body of work will focus on the 140-metre stretch of the Exeter Street viaduct, which links Charles Cross to St Andrew’s Cross roundabout.
South West Highways Ltd, who have been appointed by the Council, will remove the existing surface of carriageways, waterproof it and then resurface. Pavements will be repaved with granite slabs and existing bollards will be upgraded in order to match the improvements made by McLaren Group, who are building the Drake Leisure development.
From Monday 20 May, the inbound side of the road will be shut completely for a period of seven weeks. Drivers wanting to access the city centre from Charles Cross roundabout are being advised to follow the below diversion.
The diversion for traffic unable to use the viaduct will be via Charles Cross roundabout, Charles Street, Cobourg Street, North Cross roundabout, Western Approach, Union Street, Derry’s Cross roundabout and back onto Royal Parade.
When the inbound carriageway is finished, we’ll switch to the outbound side for a further 10 week period. Details of that diversion will be available nearer the time.
What about buses?
We’ve been speaking to the bus companies throughout the planning of this scheme.
While works are ongoing on the inbound carriageway of the viaduct, Bretonside, which is currently closed, will reopen for buses, taxis, emergency vehicles and access only. It will only be open in the inbound direction during this time. Check out the fly-through below.
What about Charles Cross?
A week before work begins on the viaduct, the next stage of traffic management for the Charles Cross Transport Improvement scheme begins.
From Monday 13 May, the right turn out of the Drake Circus car park will be closed for six weeks so that the crossing can be revamped, the lights upgraded and most crucially, the junction improved to eventually cause less delays there on busy shopping days.
The works themselves are being completed overnight to allow access into and out of the car park during the day.
Drivers exiting the car park and heading for the A38 are being advised to go through Mutley and Mannamead to Manadon Roundabout. Traffic for Plymstock and Kingsbridge will need to go around North Cross roundabout and then back through Charles Cross.
There will also be a lane closure on the roundabout itself, between the Ebrington Street and Exeter Street junctions.
The good news is that this piece of work is scheduled to be complete by the time we swap the closures on the viaduct. The bad news is that we know that even with the best will in the world, these two sets of works will cause delays.
Do you have to do it all at once?
Technically, no. But practically, yes. The viaduct work has to be completed by the time the Drake Leisure complex opens, otherwise, we will have to do temporary repairs and then dig it all up again. That costs a lot of time, but most importantly, it costs a lot of money.
The works at Drake Circus car park have always been planned as part of the Charles Cross scheme. There’s little point putting in additional lanes if they are just going to be blocked with a queue for Drake Circus.
What we don’t want to do is string it out over years. We’d much rather do it over months. Short term pain, for long term gain.
What can I do to avoid the delays?
While this work is ongoing, we’re asking everyone to think about how and when we access the city centre.
Could you use public transport? Car share? Ride a bike? Arrive a little earlier or go home a little later? As part of the work we have done on Charles Cross, we have already put a handy guide together.
We just ask that you bear with us. There’s no easy answer to planning major road improvements but we think we’re doing it the best way that we can.