A major scheme to transform St Mary’s Roundabout into the Island’s largest junction has been completed over the weekend, coming in on time and on budget.
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.
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.
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