Construction work has taken place over the past 14 months to redevelop the roundabout at the top of the dual carriageway into 2 separate traffic light junctions, increasing capacity in the area significantly. The scheme is intended to ‘future-proof’ the road network given the expected growth in traffic movement over the coming years and to also unlock former prison land at Camp Hill for redevelopment – an announcement on which is due shortly.
Motorists feared significant disruption during the works but the scheme has progressed well, despite the coronavirus pandemic, with travel delays kept to a minimum. Motorists will now be familiar with queues heading to and from Cowes, however, from today, all lanes are open and the permanent set of traffic lights are fully functional.
Heading northbound, there are now 4 lanes of traffic – 2 to go straight on to Cowes and 2 to turn right to both the Industrial Estate and B&Q/College. If heading to Cowes, motorists are now greeted with a second traffic light junction at the end of Forest Road with a left-turn slip. There are 2 lanes to go straight on to Cowes (right hand lane for the hospital also).
For those heading southbound from Cowes, you first come to the Forest Road junction with 2 ahead lanes and 1 right-turn lane, for those heading towards the West Wight. Further south there are 2 straight-ahead lanes, a right turn lane to Hunnyhill and a sweeping left slip with a give way line for those heading onto the Industrial Estate.
If leaving B&Q or the Dodnor estate, there are now 4 lanes – 1 to go straight across to Hunnyhill or turn right to Cowes, a dedicated lane to turn right to Cowes and 2 lanes to join the southbound dual carriageway. All 4 lanes are under traffic light control.
Heading up Hunnyhill from the town, motorists must now bear to the right and wait in 1 of 2 lanes – left to go to Cowes, or the middle lane to go straight across or right onto the southbound dual carriageway. At Hunnyhill there is now a dedicated bus lane for Route 1 buses travelling from Cowes to Newport.
The last change is when heading from Forest Road onto St Mary’s. 2 lanes of traffic can now queue with both lanes turning right. There is also a left slip for those going from the West Wight towards the hospital or Cowes.
There will now be a period of tinkering to get the balance of the traffic signals just right. In addition, there is a small amount of work left to complete in the newly formed cul-de-sac at the top of Hunnyhill. A temporary speed limit imposed at the start of the works remains in force.
The entire area is now completely unrecognisable when compared to how it looked last Summer and a new generation of drivers will be learning to navigate a mainland-style junction unlike anything seen on the Island before.
The project, the largest on the Island in decades, got underway on 30th September 2019 with the permanent lights switched on for the first time on Friday 20th November 2020. All lanes were opened for the first time during the early hours of Sunday 22nd November 2020. The site will be completely cleared by Christmas.
Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said:
“I am delighted these enhancements have been delivered on schedule and on budget by Island Roads and I would like to also thank road users, businesses and residents as well as local schools and the Isle of Wight College for their patience and understanding during construction.
“Now the substantial work is in place we will begin to see the benefits of this new system for all highway users. It is important to remember that this scheme is not just about easing congestion today, it will future-proof the junction against the predicted increase in car journeys for years to come.”
Kevin Burton, Island Roads network manager, said:
“Given the importance of this busy strategic route, it was vital that we kept on schedule and I am delighted that, despite the challenges, we have managed to do that.
“So many businesses, not least Island companies like Crown Park Construction and Wight Building Materials as well as our own crews, have worked flexibly and with great dedication throughout the past 14 months to keep the project moving.
“We are really pleased to finish the main element of the work on time. The new system is designed to improve journeys and journey times for pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists and bus users and I am confident the benefits of this work will quickly become apparent to all users.”
Councillor Ward added:
“It may take time for people to get used to these new arrangements and I would urge all road users to take additional care when using this junction until they become more familiar with the new road layout and signals.”
Island Echo has already been out to capture the new-look St Mary’s Junction from all angles, giving you an idea of what to expect next time you pass through Newport.
All photos are copyright to Island Echo. For usage, email [email protected]