Viaduct works to begin in May

Major road improvement works to support some of Plymouth City Centre’s most exciting developments will begin this Spring.

Shoppers and visitors are being urged to try new routes into the city centre from 13 May when work begins on the viaduct – Exeter Street – the road between the new Drake Leisure complex and Drake Circus.

Maintenance and improvement work for this 140-metre stretch of road will take place ahead of the cinema complex opening its doors in the Autumn.

Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet member for Environment and Street Scene said: “We’ve got some incredible projects going on in the city centre, the Box, the new Drake Leisure development and plans to revamp and modernise the city centre.

“We want more people to come into the city centre and to spend quality time here but that means we need to sort our roads out. We know it’s a pain but getting this work done now means drivers endure a relatively short period of disruption rather than drag it out.”

The road surface on this part of Exeter Street is patchy and was last resurfaced in 2002. It was due to be resurfaced as part of an ongoing planned maintenance programme, but it made more sense to wait until the main building phase of the Drake Circus leisure redevelopment had finished.

Building contractors McLaren Construction carried out initial work on the central reservation on the viaduct to waterproof it and replace old joints and remove railings. A similar programme is now due for rest of the viaduct, which was built in 1959 and formed the covered area of the original Plymouth bus station.

The work will take 17 weeks. South West Highways will carry out the work on the Council’s behalf, with the first phase on the shopping centre side – the east bound lane will be closed for ten weeks from 13 May to 19 July. The second phase on the west bound lane into the city centre will from 22 July until 6 September.

The city’s bus companies have been given advanced warning of the road works as well as the City Centre Company so that they can plan for alternative routes for deliveries.

To help keep key traffic moving, buses and emergency services will also be able to use Bretonside, which has been closed for over a year while work on the former bus station has been going on. This road will also be open for vehicles wanting access to businesses there.

At the same time that this is all going on, work on Charles Cross roundabout will continue. In May, the right turn out of Drake Circus car park will be closed to allow for junction improvements, a revamp of the crossing and for pavement improvements.

There will also be inside lane closures on the roundabout itself and more details will be available nearer the time

Two decisions are being signed this week which authorise funding for the viaduct work and for work to revamp the pavement on the eastbound side, once the work is complete.

Steve Hughes, chief executive of the Plymouth City Centre Company, said: “We want more people to come and to spend their money here – but we have to improve our infrastructure.

“People who drive are being encouraged to come in and out of the city centre by a different route if they possibly can. There’s lots of parking in the West End and lots of amazing shops. Take a different route and help local businesses at the same time.”

To help people think about alternatives to driving in, as part of the work we have done on Charles Cross, we have put this handy guide together.

It asks shoppers and commuters who work in the city centre to think about how and when they go into the city centre. Options include using public transport, car sharing and cycling in.