On behalf of Swindon Borough Council, contractor Alun Griffiths has finished the excavation of tonnes of soil underneath the M4 to create an underpass for the new Wichelstowe southern access (WSA) road.
The new line, which will run southwest of Swindon and intersect the M4 motorway east of junction 16, will provide a direct link to Wichelstowe and the 4,500 new houses being developed in the area.
This will be part of the future Wichelstowe link between Hay Lane and Wharf Road, Redposts Drive to the north and Croft Road to the east.
Swindon Borough Council’s contractors created a specifically designed embankment to reroute lanes of traffic in preparation for the underpass excavation operations, ensuring that adequate room was left on the highway for cars to continue using the M4. as excavation works were carried out.
After the excavation phase was completed, work on removing all traffic control related with the plan off the M4 commenced, including reverting lanes to their previous alignment and reinstalling the previous 112km/h speed limit.
All traffic management, including the temporary speed limit, has been lifted, decreasing the project’s impact on road users dramatically for the balance of the program.
“Throughout the project, the engineering and construction work has been quite excellent, establishing the underpass underneath the highway without the need for any large traffic closures,” said Gary Sumner, cabinet member for strategic planning at Swindon Borough Council.
“The removal of the current traffic management will reduce the impact of the works on road users even further, while allowing us to continue making progress on the scheme, a huge feat of engineering.”
The WSA will link to neighboring Hay Lane and Wharf Road through a new roundabout on the south side, in addition to the underpass itself.
The new roundabout and road layout are now being built with minimum disruption to road users. The WSA’s primary purpose is to offer access to Wichelstowe; it is not intended to serve as a relief route or to draw substantial amounts of through traffic.
The road will be two-way with a single lane.
By freeing 12.5 acres of potential employment land, the initiative will support a new district center and about 2,000 additional jobs.
Cycling and walking facilities will also be available.
This will be accomplished via the new connection, which will provide a route across the M4 that bypasses junction 16.
The Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership received £22.9 million from the Department of Transport, with Swindon Borough Council providing an extra £3 million.
The construction of the new road underneath the highway may finally commence, thanks to recent excavation work that allowed for the removal of the underpass.
The WSA is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.