One of Swindon and Wiltshire’s key highway interchanges is to undergo a multi-million pound upgrade.
Work to transform Junction 16 of the M4 is due to start later this summer after the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) approved the scheme, subject to final due diligence, and agreed to pay £5.92 million towards the cost of the scheme at its board meeting on Wednesday (11 May).
The construction costs are expected to be approximately £10 million and will be funded by SWLEP and the Wichelstowe Joint Venture. It is being delivered by Swindon Borough Council in partnership with Highways England and Wiltshire Council.
The work will see the roundabout altered and slip roads widened. The traffic signals will also be replaced and improvements will be made to the junction’s drainage.
The motorway junction redesign is a requirement of the outline planning permission for the major housing development at nearby Wichelstowe and needs to be complete before the 1,100th property on the site is occupied.
The upgrade will ensure the junction can cope with forecast future traffic levels and cater for future development in the surrounding areas.
A contractor for the work is expected to be appointed in the coming weeks with the project anticipated to be complete by Spring 2018.
Approximately 5,500 vehicles an hour currently use Junction 16 at morning and evening peak times and this is expected to rise by more than 50 per cent over the coming years.
Cllr Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Transport, said: “For too long, difficult decisions about improving the roads in and around Swindon have been put off. The Council is now taking a proactive approach so the town is better placed to deal with the pressures of major housing development and the increased traffic it brings.
“Upgrading Junction 16 of the M4 motorway represents year two of our five-year plan for improving Swindon’s roads, and within five years it is estimated that more than 140 vehicles will use Junction 16 every minute at rush hour to enter and leave Swindon.
“This work is being funded by housing developers and the Government, and with the support of our partners, Highways England and Wiltshire Council, Swindon is now in a position to proceed with the necessary road improvements. Anyone who currently uses the junction can see that there are problems and this scheme will address those issues.”
Rob Llewellyn, asset development manager for Highways England, said: “We are happy to be working with Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council on the transformation of junction 16 of the M4.
“A key part of our strategy is to support economic growth through a modern and reliable network that reduces delays, creates jobs, helps business and opens up new areas for development.
“Highways England recognises how important a safe, serviceable, free-flowing network is for the economy and we believe that the junction 16 redesign will bring with it added benefits for the growth and economy of Swindon.”
Barry Dennington, Chairman of SWLEP, said: “Improving the transport network is one of our strategic objectives and Junction 16 is one of the key locations where improvements will bring real economic benefits throughout Swindon and Wiltshire.”
Philip Whitehead, Wiltshire Council cabinet member responsible for highways and transport said: “It’s important our key routes are fit for purpose and can meet the challenges of our changing landscape. These works are a sound strategic investment which will ensure our roads can cope with new developments and traffic continues to run smoothly into the future.”
Drop-in sessions will be held prior to the start of the work to allow members of the public to find out more about the details and programme for the junction improvement scheme. Details of the drop-in sessions will be publicised in due course.
Further details about the scheme can be found at: www.swindon.gov.uk/junction16
Anyone who would like to receive the latest news relating to the Junction 16 upgrade can subscribe to the Council’s forthcoming Highways News newsletter by visiting: www.swindon.gov.uk/highwaysnews