Cumberland Basin (‘Western Harbour’) road proposals are raising concerns

Totterdown knows all about the disastrous implications of ‘transformative’ road schemes and so TRESA has some sympathy for the neighbourhoods, businesses and communities that are currently distressed by proposals to transform the Cumberland Basin to make way for the development of ‘Western Harbour’. The area is in the Bristol Investment Brochure which Mayor Marvin Rees has been promoting to developers.

We understand that 12 options were considered. However, the public are being asked to comment on four (the current road layout and three others) which are described in this booklet: Overview of the Western Harbour Proposal (PDF)

Despite requests, the other options are not being made public.

The current proposals are Existing road network, Western approach, Eastern approach and Hybrid approach. Each of them includes a list of ‘strengths’ and  ‘weaknesses’ which are set out below.

We believe a number of the weaknesses are unacceptable especially those that relate to environmental harm to the river and riverbank, community severance (areas being ‘cut off’ from each other by busy roads), harm to historic assets, harm to iconic views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Bond warehouses, harm to the cycle route (from a rural to a heavily-trafficked area), increased heavy traffic alongside the Nova Scotia and Pump House pubs, and increased air pollution.

Although it is not our neighburood, it is an area that many Bristol folk treasure. Please give your views on the proposals.

The link to the Council survey is here:  Western Harbour

Existing Road Network

Strengths
• Would retain the existing road layout and would have the least disruption to road users or Metrobus.
• Would have the least impact on the existing local community in the short-term as existing roads are retained.
• While a significant investment is required, this would be the lowest cost approach.
• With two bridges (Plimsoll Bridge and Merchants Road Bridge), there would be a degree of resilience to the road network when the bridges need to swing open.

Weaknesses
• Would not take advantage of the significant opportunities to deliver new housing, jobs, better access to the harbourside and inclusive growth.
• Would not create opportunities for encouraging walking and cycling via new routes, river crossings, widened pavements and better legibility.
• Would not realise the full potential for the area to create opportunities for business and leisure.
• Would require significant investment in outdated road infrastructure

Western approach

Western approach

This approach would create a new road on the western bank of the River Avon running between the Portishead rail line and the river. It would provide two lanes in each direction and would require works to the river bank. The existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge and all the elevated road structures in Hotwells and Spike Island would be demolished along with the elevated bridges crossing the River Avon.

Strengths
• Would result in the largest forecast reduction in vehicle numbers in Hotwells as the north-south traffic between the A4 Portway and A370 is relocated further west.
• As traffic numbers are reduced, the existing roads in Hotwells could be reduced in width and reallocated to other uses, such as widened pavements, cycle routes, parking areas and linear parks.
• Would remove all the elevated roads on Spike Island.
• Traffic movements would be relocated away from the Bonded Warehouses and traffic movements past the Underfall Yard would be unaffected.
• As the new highway would be constructed on the western bank, there would be limited highways disruption for much of the construction phase.
• Could release land for new uses within the area.
• Would have no impact on Metrobus.

Weaknesses
• Constructing a new, two-lane road on the western bank of the Avon would have a significant environmental impact including impacts on the river itself.
• Strategic north-south journeys between the A4 Portway and A370/ A38 would be likely to take longer as junctions would be signal controlled, while the route from Spike Island to the A370 would be longer.
• The character of a section of the National Cycle Network Route 41 would be changed from a rural setting to a traffic-dominated route.
• The new river crossings would impact on the historic setting of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
• The new crossing would be located on tidal water and may need to open during rush hour if vessels are travelling along the River Avon.
• There would only one river crossing, so there would be less resilience in instances when the bridge needs to be closed to traffic.

Eastern approach

Eastern approach

This approach would consolidate all the river crossings onto the eastern side of Cumberland Basin. To create sufficient road capacity the existing Merchants Road bridge would be replaced by a new four lane bridge [by the Pump House and Nova Scotia pubs] and a new bridge crossing of the Avon would be installed alongside the A Bond and C Bond warehouses. A new junction would be created with the A370 Jessop Underpass and A3029 Brunel Way. The existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge and all the elevated road structures in Hotwells and Spike Island would be demolished along with the elevated bridges crossing the Avon.

Strengths
• Would enhance the historic setting of the Clifton Suspension Bridge by removing the existing highway and would enable the creation of new public viewpoints on Spike Island and south of the Avon.
• Would largely use existing highway corridors with little new land required.
• Would remove all the elevated roads on Spike Island.
• There would be no impact on the western bank of the Avon nor on National Cycle Network Route 41.
• The Basin would create a safe mooring area for river traffic, so the new bridge would not need to open during highway rush hours.
• The new bridge would create the potential for improved walking and cycling routes with wider footways and cycle lanes provided.
• Compared to the Western and Hybrid approaches this could be the lowest cost transformative approach and the quickest to construct.
• Could release land for new uses within the area.

Weaknesses
• Both strategic and local traffic would navigate along the same route and all traffic would go through Hotwells and closer to existing housing on Spike Island. This approach therefore would be likely to be the worst performing in terms of noise and air quality impacts associated with traffic movements.
• Strategic north-south journeys between the A4 Portway and A370/A38 would be likely to take longer as junctions are signal controlled. Metrobus would also need a new signal-controlled junction increasing journey times.
• In comparison to the Western and Hybrid approaches, road corridors within Hotwells would be wider and busier.
• A new road would create a barrier between areas to the east and west of Spike Island.
• There would be only one bridge crossing so there would be less resilience to the road network when the bridge needs to be closed to traffic for maintenance or due to an accident.
• Potential for negative impact on the Merchants Road Bridge (which would be replaced) and on the setting of C Bond warehouse.

Hybrid approach

Hybrid approach

This approach would create a new road, providing one lane in each direction, on the western bank of the River Avon, accessed via a new bridge. This approach also creates a new bridge crossing over the Avon, connecting Bedminster to Spike Island with
Merchants Road made two-way towards Hotwells Road, allowing better access to the city centre. Merchants Road bridge would be replaced. The existing Plimsoll Swing Bridge and all the elevated road structures in Hotwells and Spike Island would be demolished along with the elevated bridges crossing the Avon.

Strengths
• Strategic traffic travelling between the A4 Portway and A3029 Brunel Way would use a different route from local traffic to/from Spike Island and the city centre. Strategic traffic therefore would retain a more direct route with relatively few new junctions.
• Would remove all the elevated roads on Spike Island.
• There would be two river crossings providing an element of resilience to the road network when a bridge is closed to traffic.
• Could reduce traffic through Hotwells, particularly certain sections, depending on the final traffic arrangement.
• The new bridge would create the potential for improved walking and cycling routes with wider footways and cycle lanes.
• The Basin would create a safe mooring area for river traffic, so the eastern bridge would not need to open during highway rush hours.
• This approach could release land for new uses within the area.

Weaknesses
• Constructing a new road on the western bank of the Avon would have a significant environmental impact including impacts on the river itself.
• The character of a section of the National Cycle Network Route 41 would be changed from a rural setting to a heavily traffic-dominated route.
• Strategic north-south journeys between the A4 Portway and A370/A38 would likely take longer as junctions are signal controlled. Metrobus would need a new signal-controlled junction increasing journey times.
• The new western river crossing would impact on the historic setting of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
• The new crossing to the west, nearest the Suspension Bridge, would be located on tidal water and may need to open during rush hour if vessels are travelling along the Avon.
• A new road would create severance between areas to the east and west of Spike Island.
• Would impact on the historic Merchants Road Bridge (which would be replaced) and on the setting of C Bond warehouse.
• This approach would require significant new road construction, and significant modifications to existing roads, and so could be the highest cost transformative approach and the longest to construct.

To give your views, the link to the Council survey is here:  Western Harbour