Now all that excavation activity – that has been on-going in Queen Square – becomes clear! It’s preparatory work for two sets of new traffic lights to improve pedestrian and cycle safety as part of Bath’s charging clean air zone (CAZ).
Now motorists are being advised that a temporary road closure will also be needed.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has already started the preparatory work necessary for the lights that will help to regulate flows of traffic into Gay Street – an area of high pollution.
From 17 February, this work will continue with the west side of the square closing for up to 16 weeks to the end of May. It will include widening the pavements between the junctions and installing the roadside cabinets for the lights and pedestrian crossings ahead of the November 4 CAZ switch on.
Traffic which would normally travel along this section of road will be diverted along Monmouth Street to turn right at Charlotte Street. Signage and diversion routes will be put in place.
There will be no access to footways and parking on the south and west sides of the square during the works, and temporary footpaths will be created for pedestrians.
Bath’s CAZ will charge all higher emission vehicles except private cars to drive in the zone from the end of 2020. The initiative will help to urgently reduce harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution (NO2) at all hot spots in the city by 2021 at the latest, both inside and outside the zone.
Councillor Sarah Warren, cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services said: “‘Regulating traffic flows through Queen Square on a temporary basis is the only way we can reduce air pollution to acceptable levels in the timeframe set for us by the government. Without this initiative, the council would have to charge all higher emission private cars to travel in Bath’s clean air zone, which we know would hit local businesses and lower-income and disadvantaged families the hardest.
“The improvement in air quality that will be brought by the CAZ, not just in the zone but across the whole city, is good news for all those suffering from lung and heart problems, particularly asthma. I’d like to stress, however, that the CAZ is only the start of our work to tackle air pollution.”
The council is advising residents and local businesses to allow extra time if they’re driving through Queen Square over the next few months. Every effort will be made to keep disruption to a minimum.
Regular drop-in events are planned to keep residents informed of the street works required to install the CAZ, and to support those affected by charges with information on compliance, exemptions, and the financial support which will soon become available to help upgrade non-compliant vehicles regularly travelling in the zone.
The first drop-on event is on Saturday 15 February, 10.00-12.00 at the Guildhall, Bath. Everyone is welcome.