Work now underway on the Farmers roundabout improvement scheme
Work has now started to improve traffic flow and reduce queues at Farmers roundabout on the A350 in Melksham.
The improvement works started on 4th February at Farmers Roundabout on the A350 which is a key route linking the M4 with the South of England. The new traffic signals which will be installed have been designed to improve traffic flow and reduce queues and delays. The work should be completed by the end of October 2019.
Wiltshire Council is working closely with contractor Dyer & Butler to plan the sequence of construction work to minimise disruption. Inevitably there will be some delays while the work is carried out as traffic management and lane closures will be required. However, there will be no reduction in the number of lanes operating during peak hours. A temporary 30mph speed limit has also been introduced whilst works are ongoing, this will help manage traffic and create a safe environment for the contractor to work in.
Signs have been put up in the area including as far afield as the M4 junction 17 and the A350 Yarnbrook to give plenty of notice to long distance motorists, and the opportunity for them to change their route choice should they wish to.
The outline programme of work will be:
- Farmers Roundabout early February to late spring 2019
- Western Way (off-peak lane closures, completing with a week of night closures) late Spring to Summer 2019
- North of Farmers Roundabout to A365 Junction Summer to early Autumn 2019
- Completion of Works October 2019
As part of the works, improvements to the appearance of the area will take place including clearing vegetation, removing weeds and obstructive foliage, sign maintenance and general cleaning. There will also be revised signing & lining, drainage improvements and extensive resurfacing works.
Dyer & Butler hosted a "Meet the Contractor" event on 11 February at Melksham Town Hall which was well attended by those with an interest in the improvement scheme. Representatives of Wiltshire Council, Atkins and Dyer & Butler were on hand to answer questions and give further information. There were also plans available for viewing and the interactive model demonstrating the design of the scheme. (Pictures of the event below).
The introduction of traffic signals at Farmers roundabout, Melksham will improve the overall traffic flow and reduce queues and delays. Currently at peak periods the roundabout experiences high volumes of traffic. The volume of traffic and the speed in which they are circulating the roundabout does not allow for large enough gaps to enable traffic to easily access the roundabout. The introduction of traffic signals will allow for better control of the roundabout and increased capacity.
The total scheme is anticipated to cost around £3 million pounds.
Funding is largely being provided through the Department for Transport’s National Productivity Investment Funding (NPIF). We were successful in bidding for the funds, and confirmation of the successful bid was received in October 2017.Close
No. The majority of the work will take place on Farmers roundabout to widen the carriageway, introduce new traffic signals, and re-align the traffic islands. Work will also be undertaken on the northbound exit from Semington Road roundabout to increase the taper length to help ease the traffic merge movement and increase capacity in the area. Resurfacing works are also due to take place between the two roundabouts, there are however no current plans to dual the entire section.
The new traffic signals will control traffic movements on Farmers roundabout. We know the new signals are close to existing signals, however part of the work will see the new signals linked to those at the nearby Asda and A365 junctions which will improve the overall traffic flow.
The proposed traffic signals are required to regulate the flow of traffic into Farmers where, currently, large number of vehicles using the A350 present few opportunities for vehicles on the B3107 Bradford Road (west) and the A3102 Bradford Road (east, Melksham town centre) from entering the junction. This causes regular queue lengths of over 300m on the local road network.
Additional traffic signals will help ensure traffic flows more freely from these secondary roads.
For the signal control system to work effectively, it has to take into account the operation of all the junctions, including the existing traffic signals at the Asda and A365 junction, which it will do in conjunction with a series of vehicle movement (Loop) detectors set into all of the approach roads.
A policy of selective improvements to the A350 has been included in our development plans, including the current Wiltshire Core Strategy, for a number of years. These have been subject to extensive public consultation.
above and the fact that no planning permission is required for the schemes, no
formal public consultation has been carried out.
Signalisation of the traffic arm from Melksham town centre will make it easier to access Farmers roundabout and subsequently the A350. A better flowing A350 will also bring added benefits to the local economy in Melksham.
The B3107 arm currently experiences significant traffic queue lengths at peak times due to the entry movement being restricted by the large volume of A350 traffic. In addition, the current lane designations do not allow for the full use of available road space. Signal control at the other arms of the junction will generate regular gaps in traffic on the roundabout, allowing vehicles from the B3107 to enter the junction. Were a stop light provided at the B3107 stop line, this would increase the number of red-green cycles every hour, reducing the overall capacity of the junction.
In addition, the lane designations between Farmers and the A365 junction will be amended to allow the inside lane to be used by A350 north traffic. This should help maximise the use of existing road space during the peak hours.
The extent of works required has been carefully determined to avoid an un-necessarily long construction programme. By carrying out extensive condition surveys and consulting with our area works teams, the scope of work has been optimised so that there will be minimal construction in the carriageways. We are developing options to identify the most effective means of managing traffic, and will use evening and night work were possible, although this has to be weighed against disturbance to local residents. By carefully planning the sequence of construction work, we hope to utilise some of the new junction layout ahead of completion of the works, to provide more opportunities to keep traffic flowing.
Yes, as part of the works there will be an exercise to improve the appearance of the area. Work will include: clearance of vegetation, removal of weeds and obstructive foliage, sign maintenance and general cleaning.
The Asda junction currently operates as an “all movements” facility providing access to the supermarket and also a range of other retail outlets and distribution centres within the adjoining business area. The Asda junction not only caters for car traffic, but also for large HGVs and other vehicles operating from that site.
The removal of the right turn access into the Asda area was considered at an earlier stage of the scheme development, but was discounted for various reasons including:-
- Vehicles wishing to turn right into Asda would be forced to perform a U-turn manoeuvre at Farmers Roundabout, thereby adding to the high traffic flows at that location and exacerbating existing queues.
- The rerouted traffic would need to pass through several sets of traffic signals at Farmers Roundabout thus increasing journey time for the rerouted vehicles as well as impinging upon other traffic already in the area. Simply put, the rerouting of Asda bound traffic would diminish the traffic flow improvements that the scheme is seeking to bring forward.
- Given the layout of the existing junction, and the need to control the A350 northbound traffic to allow vehicles to leave Asda, the proposed scheme automatically provides opportunity for southbound traffic wanting to make a right turn. This would be the case whether such a junction arrangement was used or otherwise, and so no delay is actually generated by a right turn movement at this location.
- In general terms, on busy sections of the network it is often preferable to allow vehicles to leave that network as soon as possible, rather than retaining them unduly on the road causing further interactions and delays with other traffic.
The emerging scheme does not include the McDonald’s / Aldi traffic signals to be linked with those included in this scheme. The junctions at Farmers Roundabout, Asda and A365 Bath Road are all located in relatively close proximity, with the link distances between the junctions being around 130m - 150m. Conversely, the McDonald’s / Aldi junction is relatively remote with the link distance back to Bath Road being around 350m.
The distances between Farmers Roundabout, Asda and Bath Road junctions mean that traffic queues from one junction can impact on adjacent junctions and in this regard it is sensible that the opportunity is taken as part of the scheme to link these junctions through the proposed traffic signal layouts and configurations. The distance between the McDonald’s / Aldi traffic signals and those at Bath Road is, however, sufficiently large that queuing from either junction does not have a significant effect on the other and as such it is considered that there is no immediate need to provide such a connection.
To connect the McDonald’s / Aldi signals with those at Bath Road would require a new duct and cable to be installed throughout this length of carriageway, with associated additional traffic management, lane closures and road closures beyond those already needed as part of the scheme. It is likely that service diversions would be required in order to accommodate the new infrastructure, and the amount of services buried in the footway and highway along this section of the A350 is such that this would be disproportionately expensive compared to the potential benefits it would provide.
Clearly, once the new scheme is put in place the new traffic signal system, along with those at McDonalds / Aldi, will be monitored to ensure they operate as effectively as possible.
Proposals for an eastern bypass at Melksham are still at a very early stage of development, and currently there are no firm proposals. Many difficult hurdles and issues would need to be overcome before it became a reality – not least the availability of land, the construction of a new bridge across the River Avon, concerns regarding development within a flood plain, potential ecological and environmental concerns, the mechanism for delivery, planning considerations, and indeed the availability of funding.
The scheme at Farmers Roundabout has largely been funded by the Department for Transport’s National Productivity Investment Fund. It is aimed at addressing the existing situation at Farmers Roundabout, which has for some time been recognised as experiencing high volumes of traffic in the peak periods, causing significant queuing and delays and unpredictable journey times.
The current secured funding is dedicated to, and is required to be spent in connection with, the existing situation at Farmers Roundabout. It is not possible to utilise these funds in connection with a wider project.
The focus of the project is very much aimed at improving the traffic (vehicular) capacity at Farmers Roundabout. Nevertheless surveys have been undertaken as part of the design process to understand the current amount and nature of pedestrian and cycle movements through the junction, and to seek to make improvements where possible.
Surveys have shown that the number of pedestrians and cyclists passing through or seeking to cross the A350 at Farmers Roundabout is very low.
It is anticipated that footway resurfacing works will be included in certain locations around Farmers Roundabout, and that there will be enhancements to the existing, and new dropped kerb crossing points provided.
Off carriageway facilities for cyclists, which were implemented as part of previous developments in the area, already exist to the west of the junction and these will be retained. The new traffic light system at Farmers Roundabout is designed to provide greater control and certainty regarding vehicle movements at the junction, and this should help all users including cyclists more readily negotiate the network.
The new traffic signals at Farmers Roundabout will operate using MOVA (Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation), and will be linked to the traffic signals at both the Asda and A365 Bath Road junctions.
The MOVA system monitors traffic queue length build up through detectors either installed in the carriageway surface, or mounted on top of signal heads. Operating parameters such as maximum permissible queue lengths before the lights change, the priority of certain movements based on max queue length, and longest and shortest permitted green/red light times then allow the MOVA system to optimise the junction capacity.
The MOVA system will also cover the Asda and A365 Bath Road junctions.
As part of the installation process, traffic signal engineers will set the configurations and operating parameters of the system such that MOVA can then respond to changing traffic conditions throughout the day.
The use of part-time traffic signals is becoming much less frequent on highway networks. In the past they were generally used on motorway junctions, which tend to be relatively ‘stand-alone’ locations. However there have been suggestions that part time operation can contribute to driver confusion and subsequent safety concerns with the stop line indicating one thing to the driver, but the non-operational signal heads suggesting something different.
The close proximity of the Farmers Roundabout junction to the other signals at Asda and A365, which operate 24/7, means that the introduction of part time use is not viable. Nor is it considered to be a safe solution given the confusion that can develop.