Months of roadworks starts – turning Exeter city centre ‘temporary’ Covid layouts into permanent fixtures

Temporary Covid traffic restrictions in Exeter city centre are set to become permanent as months of roadworks begins.

Devon County Council (DCC) said ‘work to deliver permanent changes’ to the road layout in Queen Street, Iron Bridge and St David’s Hill – in Exeter – will start on Monday, April 17, and end in June.

The aim to ‘reduce the dominance of vehicles in the city centre’ to make ‘more space’ for pedestrians and cyclists includes no entry to vehicles on the Iron Bridge and widening the pavement in Queen Street, keeping the Covid-imposed one-way traffic system.

Temporary ‘shuttle’ signals will direct traffic along Queen Street during the roadworks.

Local businesses will remain open during the work, the council said.

A DCC spokesman said: “The scheme, which is expected to be completed by June, will ensure that temporary changes introduced during the pandemic are made permanent, providing more space and improving safety for the 10,000 people that walk and cycle on Queen Street each day.

“Improvements include widening of the southern footway on Queen Street between Northernhay Street and Paul Street as well as a number of other alterations to access on Iron Bridge and Paul Street.”

He added: “This scheme will support the county council’s encouragement of active travel and will help to reduce the dominance of vehicles in the city centre, all of which are targets of the adopted Exeter Transport Strategy 2020-2030.”

The county council said the changes include:

  • A new loading bay will also be introduced adjacent to Brody’s and Big Bakes Bakery to help serve those businesses on this stretch of Queen Street without rear access.
  • To improve transport access to Exeter Central Station the eastern loading bay adjacent to Northernhay Gate will be changed to a taxi bay. The existing taxi bay will be replaced with additional disabled parking and a car club space.
  • Advance warning signs of the no entry on Iron Bridge will also be provided on the approaches to the mini roundabout junction at St David’s Hill/Hele Road.
  • Vehicle access along Queen Street will remain under the temporary shuttle signals during the work. Once complete, traffic will be controlled by the traffic signals at the junction of Queen Street/Paul Street. This will reduce delay for all users and will enable the reinstatement of the controlled crossing outside the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM).

When the measures were introduced amid Covid in a bid to encourage social distancing, Devon County Council described them as ‘temporary’.

But a four-week consultation on whether to keep them subsequently took place in 2021, following a recommendation from the Exeter highways and traffic orders committee (HATOC).

The HATOC committee approved the proposal, with two members voting against.

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