Despite losing seven weeks of work due to the coronavirus lockdown, the Swanage town centre improvements are on track to be completed by mid-June – only a few weeks longer than originally scheduled.
With few people and little traffic in town over the last few weeks, the Dorset Council highways team are making speedy progress with the final stages of the project.
Eradicate long-running safety concerns
The work, that started back at the beginning of January 2020, is aimed at improving pedestrian safety, following a serious collision in 2015. Dorset Council says improvements to the highway will eradicate long-running safety concerns of heavy vehicles mounting busy pavements to pass vehicles in the loading bay in Institute Road.
Once the scheme is finished, deliveries will still be able to take place with new loading bays positioned at either end of Institute Road.
Progress so far
A new pedestrian crossing with wider pavements in Station Road was the first work to be completed before the project was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Some on-street parking has been removed and replaced with a loading bay area.
New Puffin Crossing in Station Road
The old central traffic island outside the Mowlem was removed and a new one has now been built that includes a parking space for emergency vehicles.
New traffic island outside the Mowlem
A new loading bay at the start of Institute Road near Boots has been marked out, to replace the old loading bay further along Institute Road.
New loading bay in Institute Road
The team are currently finishing the installation of drainage and the widening of the pavements in Institute Road.
Pavement widening in Institute Road
From Monday 1st June 2020 they are planning to start laying the top surface of the pavements – a practical concrete surface that will retain the look of Purbeck stone paving. This will mean some night time working, as they will have to close the road to both traffic and pedestrians and they can only do that once Haymans Bakery – the only shop still open in the road – has closed for the day.
Haymans Bakery in Institute Road
A Dorset Council spokesperson said:
“With it being so quiet in town, the roadworks have been going really well, helping the highways team get on quickly with the job. We hope to have all the work completed by the middle of June 2020 but this is dependent on the weather and government imposed COVID-19 restrictions.”
The town centre improvements are estimated to cost around £450,000 and are being funded by Dorset Council, Swanage Town Council, and Section 106 money from developers.
Town centre improvement scheme timeline 2020
Monday 6th January – Work started in Station Road to upgrade the pedestrian crossing to a Puffin crossing.
Monday 27th January – Work started to reposition the traffic island in Shore Road opposite the Mowlem Theatre, so a new loading bay can be created.
Monday 3rd February – Work started to realign the kerb at the junction of Kings Road East and the High Street to allow traffic to turn right.
Monday 17th February – Institute Road shut to all traffic. Work starts to redesign the road. The one way direction of Kings Road East is reversed.
Friday 6th March – Changes made to the town centre temporary traffic lights and Stafford Road is made one way, to help prevent long traffic queues building up.
Tuesday 24th March – Work suspended due to the government’s coronavirus guidance and Institute Road reopened
Monday 4th May – Work restarts and Institute Road closed
Sunday 31st May – Original date that all work should have been completed.
Monday 1st June – Start laying the top surface of the pavements – a practical concrete surface that will retain the look of Purbeck stone paving.
Mid-June – Project estimated to be completed.