Additional junction could ease congestion at key M4 interchange

Paul Williams of Bruton Knowles' Bristol office.

Commercial property specialists Bruton Knowles have applauded South Gloucestershire Council’s decision to re-open a bid for an additional junction on the M4 to link the motorway with the A4174 Avon Ring Road, in order to relieve pressure on the road network in the area.

The plans were widely discussed but placed on the back burner earlier this year.

But now South Gloucestershire Council has asked for a new £500,000 feasibility study to be drawn up for the link to serve the residential and commercial developments at Emersons Green as well as the Bristol and Bath Science Park.

Ironically, the Science Park is situated alongside the motorway, but accessing J19 of the M4 requires a three-mile journey which at peak times can take 20 minutes or more to navigate.

Traffic is also increased on nearby country roads as commuters seek to avoid peak hour jams.

The study into the potential new junction will be funded by the Department for Transport.

Paul Williams, who backed calls to press ahead with the additional junction when it was first mooted last year, said he is encouraged to see the scheme had not been permanently shelved.

“Campaigners are hoping to rebuild their case for the new junction, which could relieve pressure on the overloaded M32 junction. Creating a new junction on to the M4 could be a game changer in terms of moving the park up the pecking order when it is being considered by potential occupiers.

“Our concern has always been that ongoing development schemes will encroach onto the proposed route – which is what happened during the development of Cribbs Causeway – impacting on the future road layout.

Lack of foresight can lead to difficulties later on, this is also seen when suggestions are raised to re-open former rail links in various locations, only to discover that housing estates or other obstructions have been built on the route of the former railway, making it very much harder to reinstate the service than it might otherwise have been.

Unless a potential route is identified and safeguarded, it may become unfeasible to consider progressing with the new junction at a future date.

The scheme to relieve pressure on the existing M4 junction at Hambrook was first considered 30 years ago – and rejected in favour of increased concentration on public transport.

“It’s good to see this useful plan has not been permanently shelved. It is also important to ensure spiralling costs don’t prove prohibitive, as appears to be the case with other big ticket infrastructure schemes around the city, not least the recent disappointing announcement that rail electrification will not now reach Bristol Temple Meads station for the foreseeable future.”

Bristol is a great city in which to live and work, but there is a danger that it will be strangled by its own success unless it is provided with a transport infrastructure which is fit for purpose in the 21st century, and political infighting between local authorities which has often scuppered such schemes in the past can be overcome, perhaps by a forthcoming ‘MetroMayor’ taking a lead in this area.