ONE of Swindon’s busiest roundabouts will be out of action for three months into the autumn.
And extra work to keep the road stable at the White Hart junction will add £2.6m to Swindon Borough Council’s £30m bill.
Workers contracted by the local authority have been working at the major junction for months in a huge project to widen the roundabout, install lights and construct an entirely new ramp for traffic joining the A419 northbound.
Work has been progressing well but staff from construction company Osborne found what the council calls “significant defects in the road base” underneath the roundabout earlier this year.
The work to fix it involves digging down nearly a metre below the existing road to build new foundations for the surface and it will put the roundabout nearly completely out of action for 12 weeks from mid-August.
The only traffic which will be able to use the junction will be emergency service vehicles and traffic joining the A420 eastbound, toward Oxford from the A419 southbound, or traffic coming off the A420 from Oxford heading south on the A419. The council says the roundabout will be back in action in November.
Gary Sumner, the council’s cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, transport and planning, said: “There is no getting away from the fact that this extra work is going to create major inconvenience to motorists, and I can only apologise for the upcoming disruption.
“However, we have to dig so deep underneath the carriageway that it would not be safe to try and keep one lane of the roundabout open.
“By closing the roundabout to through traffic it will allow our contractor to press ahead with the work and complete it in the shortest possible time.
“Numerous surveys taken before the scheme got underway suggested a repair of the road would be sufficient. The severe defects in the road structure only became apparent earlier this year when our contractor planed off a section of the carriageway between Merlin Way and Oxford Road to undertake a detailed survey of the road base structure.
“If this work is not carried out, there is a high probability that the road base will fail in the short term, so it is important we invest and do this work properly now.
“We will keep residents, local businesses and motorists informed of our progress on the scheme through our dedicated New Eastern Villages e-newsletter, letter drops and our social media channels.”
While the work should be finished in November, the main project including the new slip road and bridge over the railway line will continue until February 2022.
Motorist Richard Parry uses the White Hart roundabout every day heading to work in Swindon.
He said: “Since the lockdowns finished I’ve been quite impressed at how well they’ve been getting on with the work – and it’s been much less hassle than I’d thought.
“The queues getting off the A419 south have not been nearly as bad as I thought they’d be, and this summer has been pretty easy.
“It’s a shame they’re going to have to close it – though my alternative, which is down to Commonhead and into Dorcan is pretty easy.”
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