An aerial shot of the park and ride taken in September 2009
Taunton's new £3m park and ride in Henlade has opened for business amid concerns about the new road layout and further increases in traffic congestion on the A358.
The Taunton Gateway has partially opened with 150 available spaces and a reduced timetable is in operation.
The site has cost over £3m and was meant to be finished by October 2009.
It is expected to fully open in the New Year, with a total of 1,000 spaces for cars and spaces for bikes.
Worsening air quality
The Taunton Gateway park and ride has been controversial since the plans were first suggested by the county council.
It is located close to the M5 roundabout on the A358 in the village of Henlade, on the area of land known as Cambria Farm.
Concerns by protesters ranged from an increase in traffic congestion for nearby village residents to worsening air quality levels and it raised further questions about how it would affect any future plans to dual the A358.
Although duelling the A358 from Taunton to Ilminster is unlikely for the foreseeable future, fresh concerns have been raised about the new site for traffic getting on and off site.
Doug Lowe, a resident in nearby Ruishton, said: "Thirty four thousand cars go past it daily, there's no traffic signalisation for safe access and exit of the site, buses that they're proposing that will come from the other park and ride site will have to cross the road to get in.
"At night-time the same people who parked in there would have to cross the road if they have to go towards Ilminster [southbound on the A358]."
The county council has said the new park and ride will help reduce congestion in Taunton, and could save motorists around £70 a month in parking costs, compared with parking in the town centre.
With regards to safe access on and off Taunton Gateway, Richard Neaves, major projects manager, said: "At the moment we have got in place traffic management throughout the length of the A358.
"Traffic coming from Ilminster can slip in left to the park and ride site and when they leave, at the present time they will be directed to the M5 roundabout, they won't be allowed to turn right when they exit the park and ride site.
"People coming from Taunton, there is an access into the site, which is at the eastern end, not opposite Ruishton Lane, we segregated away from Ruishton Lane so that it makes it easier for motorists to turn right into the site."
What do you think about the new Taunton Gateway park and ride? Send us your comments.
My word, people do like to complain don't they? I have used this new P&R virtually every day since it opened and have to say it is saving a fortune in time and money. The car is also more efficient because my average mpg is much better not having to crawl through town centre traffic. Taunton is a naturally busy place it seems so congestion is always going to present nowadays. With regards to the danger at the entrance to the site, why not wait untill it is finished before you complain? Yes it's busy and can be slow through Henlade but if we all had a bit more patience perhaps we'd all be life richer??
Jason Hodgson, Yeovil
Can someone explain to me why pensioners holding free travel cards must pay such high fares when using the Taunton Park and Ride? Most other towns offer free or greatly subsidised fares. When I raised this subject to the authorities I was told that the charge was not for the bus fare, but for parking, therefore rendering the travel pass concessionary cards not valid. Does this imply that any day soon the council will adjust all their parking fees to be determined by the number of persons in the car?
David Pincombe, Ilminster
What is the purpose of the park and ride? To generate revenue; ease congestion in Taunton Town Centre, Be a bit green ? If it is something else I would like to know what. If it is one or all of those it fails on every count.
No traffic signals mean increased congestion in an already heavy traffic area. Any one turning right out of the park and ride are then left for hours waiting for a gap with their engine running spewing fumes out (is that green? don't think so!) As for the decision to ease traffic or raise money it fails because it is simply too expensive - I am driving in today with 4 children and my wife to do some shopping - we will be in taunton for about 2 hours - I can park for under £2.50 in Taunton for that time. If I went to the park and ride it would cost me £4.10 - too much money I am afraid! alternatively I could do my shopping elsewhere thus reducing the money that is going into the local economy, which lets face it is booming isn't it - oh no my mistake it has!
If you are going to stop cars coming into the centre of town but still want the people to come you have to subsidise the alternative mode of transport to the point where it is cheaper/more convenient for the public to use it than not to! If you don't then people will ignore it and you have an expensive white elephant and still retain the original traffic problem - Oh good grief that's what has happened -well done ! For an encore why don't we build lots of new homes on a flood plain so they are under water every year for a few months and can't get insurance.
Stuart Saunders, Stoke St Gregory
Oh dear, I was hoping to use this new park & ride, as I dread driving into Taunton via East Reach, with the usual delays, then trying to park. All the negative comments from those in the know have put me off. Maybe SCC are trying to get us all onto the buses, in which case they should make them cheaper for the under-60s!
I live on Ruishton Lane, and getting out of there has gone from very difficult to near enough impossible and extremely dangerous. I was told that they can't put any temporary lights there because it will slow the traffic down. But they plan to put permanent ones there!?!?! This whole thing, to me, has absolutely no logic to it and has just made a complete nightmare for those of us who use Ruishton Lane, especially to access the M5 (as sometimes it is actually quicker for me to go through Creech!) I agree with Ray Cleave, a COMPLETE mess has been made of this.
Oh dear, what an ignominious start to what should have been such a worthwhile scheme.
Baker, North Curry
I have been driving past this site every day since before the work started. I can't believe that cars are now aloud to turn right coming from the direction of the M5 into the park & ride, as you were never allowed to right into the lay-by. The only way I can see to sort this problem is to waste yet more money on a roundabout at the end of the dual carriageway in Henlade. Either that or scrap the whole site and start again the other side of the motorway in Blackbrook business centre.
Andy Sugg, Bristol
Madness as said it's heavily congested and badly laid out traffic management scheme. If you ask anyone in taunton other than scc they will tell you it's the worst possible place for it to be sited. It's the wrong side of the motorway on the busy most congested road lending from junction 25.
James Burge, Taunton
Poorly planned, overpriced. Another expensive white elephant caused by the profligate Lib Dems.
Peter Crosland, UK
Taunton is renowned for big budget schemes that do nothing to reduce congestion, all these things are half thought out. There will no doubt be a massive introduction of traffic signals which will be badly programmed and only cause the congestion problem to shift from in town to out of town. This is exactly what happened when the other park and ride and bridge were built at Silk Mills Road, congestion is worse than ever there.
J Brown, Taunton
[comment edited] I queued for the best part of 30 mins today to get through Henlade, this is quite normal, how exactly does this scheme help that issue; oh, it doesn't, it will make it worse, well done SCC!!
Doug Oliver, Martock, Somerset
Getting out of Ruishton Lane is now going to be a nightmare. Traffic planners are completely insane! It is obvious that some sort of signal controlled access will be needed. And why open it when it isn't finished? It won't be used in its current state- buses will be running empty. A complete mess has been made by the planners and the traffic management must have been drawn up by a five year old! Even though I live that side of taunton, I won't be using it until the traffic problems are sorted. (ie signals installed) Ray Cleave, Taunton
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