Readers back call for a bypass

Avenue La Fleche was closed for four hours following an accident in which two men received minor injuries (18336/1)

Avenue La Fleche was closed for four hours following an accident in which two men received minor injuries (18336/1)

First published in News by

Gazette readers have written to the paper backing a call for a new bypass for Chippenham after a car crash forced the closure of one of Chippenham's main arterial routes and caused traffic chaos.

The resulting gridlock prompted renewed calls for a bypass to be built around the town.

See This week's Gazette letters page. There's still time to add your comments by e-mailing glawrence@newswilts.co.uk .

Avenue La Fleche was closed for four hours on Friday while police cleared debris from a collision between two cars at around 4.30pm.

The closure left frustrated motorists backed up as far as The Pheasant roundabout on Bath Road, with some drivers taking an hour-and-a-half to cross through town. The tailbacks stretched along Pewsham Way and out on to the A4 towards Calne.

Two men, aged 17 and 18, were taken to the Royal United Hospital in Bath suffering from minor injuries, but were released after treatment. The 18-year-old was driving a black Ford Fiesta, which was in collision with a Vauxhall Vectra the other driver had owned for just two hours.

District councillor Philip Alnatt said a bypass connecting the A350 Melksham road with the A4 to Calne was the only answer to the dilemma.

"Even the smallest hiccup, such as routine roadworks or a minor accident, and the town grinds to a halt," he said.

"We need to bite the bullet and connect the road from Lackham College down to the A4 at the Lysley Arms."

On Friday the High Street was opened to traffic two-and-a-half hours early and the traffic lights at the bottom of Gladstone Road were switched off to try to ease the situation. But the town centre was still gridlocked for the entire rush hour.

Councillor and former mayor Ross Henning said that an eastern bypass would be built eventually, but it would cost millions of pounds.

"Chippenham needs a road from Lackham College across the parish of Lacock to the Saab garage on the A4," he said. "It should also connect up with the Swindon road at Monkton Park, creating a ring road.

"We've been trying to address this problem for years but whichever way we turn there is resistance."

Coun Henning said a practical short-term solution would be to link Rowden Hill with Avenue La Fleche, avoiding the Bridge Centre roundabout, and to link Monkton Park on to the B4069.

He said: "At the moment the only way to get from west to east is through the town. The problem we have is whatever we do, we have to cross the river and the railway line."

North Wiltshire MP James Gray said it took his wife Sarah and hour and a half to get from Pewsham to their home in Slaughterford on Friday night.

"Something fundamental needs to be done to sort out the traffic situation in Chippenham," he said.

However he was opposed to the idea of building a bypass crossing fields between Lackham and the Calne A4. "It's the traffic system within the town that needs changing the whole system around the Arches and New Road I can't understand why it cannot be done better. We need to rethink how the traffic goes through Chippenham."

A spokesman for Wiltshire County Council said: "We understand the frustration that severe traffic delays can cause and we understand the subsequent calls for a bypass.

"However, at this time the likelihood of being successful in a bid to the Government for funding to extend the western bypass to the A4 Calne Road is extremely remote."

The highway authority says around 21,500 vehicles enter Avenue La Fleche every day.

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