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Stonehenge snarl-ups not our fault, says WC

October 14, 2013 11:01 PM

Wiltshire Council has acknowledged that there have been significant delays on the A303 this summer, and that these will have been caused partly by the closure of the A344 at Stonehenge Bottom.

The council explains that it supported the planning application for the new visitor centre and the closure of the A344 following an application by English Heritage. Neither the Council nor the Highways Agency objected to the stopping up of the A344, though they knew there would be additional delays on the A303. An Inquiry Inspector heard the objections to the road closure, but found the proposal to be acceptable, and approved the making of an Order to stop up a length of the A344.

The A303/A360 Longbarrow junction was improved by the Highways Agency to provide capacity for the forecast flows on both routes through the junction. The A360/B3086/A344 junction was provided by English Heritage to accommodate the forecast flows at this junction, and to provide a safer form of junction for the future traffic flows.

The Highways Agency is a government quango which manages trunk roads such as the 303.

WC highways officers go on to say, "We do not yet have data available to indicate the extent to which traffic flows on the A303 and local roads might have increased this year, but the Council understands that the July visitor numbers to Stonehenge were at a peak. This could be an indicator that A303 traffic levels have increased during the same period.

We have been aware that, in addition to the effects of traffic slowing to view the Stones, there was also an issue with drivers attempting to turn across the traffic stream to enter Byway 12, which passes close to the Stones. Action has been taken to address this latter problem, with traffic regulation orders being secured to prohibit right turning into and out of the byway at its A303 junction. It is hoped that this measure will be respected by drivers, including those whose satnav devices might otherwise have directed them onto the byway."

WC says it will continue to monitor the problem and to keep an eye on visitor numbers. If too many drivers try to get to the new visitor centre signs will be put up telling them to go away. Council officers admit that this in itself could cause what they call 'issues' on local roads.

They also say they will continue to work with the DfT and Highways Agency to press for a resolution to the constraints on the A303 trunk road, particularly as it affects journey time reliability around Stonehenge.

In practice though there is unlikely to be any change or solution to the traffic problems in the area.

Local action group WiSBAng have been discussing the problem with WC - here's their correspondence