The Transport Policy Service encompasses five main areas of activity:
- Transport Planning and Policy
- Commissioning Transport Projects and Studies
- Funding Bids
- Traffic Modelling
- Sustainable Movement and Active Travel
Together we look at the transport requirements throughout Somerset and work out the best way to achieve a comprehensive and efficient transport network. This includes research and analysis of data to establish current transport needs and to predict what will be required in future. We work out how best to deliver those future needs, and make sure that these are planned in association with new employment and housing development across the county. We then put together funding bids to deliver these projects and plans.
What we do
A large part of our work is about testing various options to deliver the right strategy for future transport improvements. We can then identify and secure the funding to build new infrastructure if necessary or change the existing infrastructure to better serve the network. The team produces many of the bids the council makes for additional funds to deliver transport infrastructure, which historically include the Taunton Third Way, Northern Inner Distributor Road and the recent Bridgwater Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) project.
Each area has a wide remit of responsibilities and we work together with district colleagues and partners to realise the aims and aspirations of the Future Transport Plan and the overarching aims of the Council.
Transport planning and policy
From active travel through to zebra crossings, the role of transport planning and policy is to determine the most efficient and cost-effective way for everyone in Somerset to use the transport network, and then recommend policies that deliver it. We look at all areas of transport including trains, buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and walking, freight and parking.
Most of our work relies on technical evidence and best practice as its starting point, including policies and legislation set by Central Government. We research, consult, write and update our strategies, policies and plans on a regular basis. The main overarching document that guides this policy framework is the Local Transport Plan, known in Somerset as the Future Transport Plan.
We work together with other areas of the County Council and District Councils to offer advice and guidance on transport issues and areas of national transport policy. This is most often related to planned urban development across the county.
Transport projects and studies
We prepare detailed proposals for complex transport projects, town transport studies, or specific requests to test the transport impacts of various growth scenarios. These projects and studies are then put forward for consultation with stakeholders, partners and the general public. Alternatively, they are fed back to the commissioner who requested the work (often district councils, although we also work with Highways England and various consultants with interests in large-scale development proposals).
Taking these technical projects forward ensures that robust and cost-effective schemes can be developed and pursued. Our expertise enables us to offer advice and guidance on a number of major projects such as Highway England’s A303 upgrade.
One of the current strands of work in this area is developing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs). Encouraging and enabling walking and cycling can support the delivery of many of the Council’s aims from health to economic growth, as well as addressing some of our transport problems such as peak time congestion. By evaluating current conditions and developing plans for a holistic walking and cycling network, we can influence future investments in the highway.
Our Transport Policy Team has recently produced applications for funding.
- Emergency Active Travel Fund: Tranche 1 and 2 (in response to covid-19) (2021)
- Active Travel Fund (April 2021)
- Traffic Signals Improvement Bid (May 2021)
- Pinch Point Fund (2020)
Currently, we’re working on
- Levelling Up Fund, Transport Bid (2021)
- Active Travel Capital Funding 2021-22
Our successful funding bids include
- Junction 25 Improvement Scheme currently under construction (for more information, please visit Travel Somerset)
- Creech Castle Junction Improvements. Construction stalled due to covid-19, expected late 2021
Recent studies include
- Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans for Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil
- B3191 Watchet to Blue Anchor Options Assessment Report
We carry out transport modelling to predict what effect a new road layout or the impact a new development may have on traffic flows. Data from traffic surveys is programmed into a computer model that shows the likely changes in traffic behaviour on the network. From this, our traffic modellers can advise planning officers whether the proposed changes will adversely affect the current transport network and suggest adjustments that could improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
Sustainable movement and Active Travel
We have long recognised the benefits of sustainable transport and active travel modes. We are committed to encouraging residents, businesses and visitors to the county to adopt an active lifestyle which embraces walking and cycling as a regular part of their daily routine wherever possible.
The national landscape of active travel is evolving, with government declaring a climate change emergency, which is reshaping transport policy. Our transport infrastructure design and delivery is informed by the wider policy framework at both the national, regional and local level.
To make it easier for people to choose active travel, the council commissions schemes such as Repair and Ride, which offers workplace bicycle servicing. We also work closely with public health colleagues to maximise the impact of investment in active travel modes to improve the health, fitness and wellbeing of citizens across Somerset.
We take every opportunity to bid for additional funds to secure active travel investment in Somerset. Recently, we received grant funding from government through the Active Travel Fund. The funding supports local transport authorities with producing cycling and walking facilities. Tranche 1 funding supported us with the installation of temporary projects in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tranche 2 funding is supporting the creation of longer-term projects in Somerset.
To help us prepare a pipeline of future active travel infrastructure schemes, we have produced Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) for Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil. LCWIPs will support the delivery of new active travel infrastructure using an evidence-based approach, enabling us to deliver cycling and walking infrastructure where it’s needed and where it can provide the most benefit to citizens of Somerset.