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Temporary layout measures introduced in Queen Street in Exeter

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Temporary changes have been introduced to the road layout in Queen Street in Exeter.

The Devon County Council scheme is supporting efforts to encourage safe walking and cycling during the coronavirus pandemic as part of the Government’s Active Travel Fund initiative.

The road has been made one-way (eastbound) between Paul Street and Northernhay Street where it has been narrowed to a single lane of traffic.

The revised layout of Queen Street provides more space for pedestrians on the narrowest section, enabling social distancing to take place in one of the highest areas of footfall in the city. Iron Bridge has also been made one-way westbound from Paul Street to South of Dinham Road.

Temporary signals have been installed in Northernhay Street and the junction of Queen Street / Paul Street to enable two-way access for buses, taxis and cyclists. Cyclists are also able to cycle in both directions on Iron Bridge.

Service vehicles can still access Upper Paul Street and Queen Street South, but vehicle access from Paul Street is no longer allowed.

The temporary scheme was initially planned to coincide with the start of the academic year in January, but was deferred following the announcement of the current national lockdown. Although schools are not expected to return until next month, the new layout has been introduced while traffic levels are lower to give people chance to get used to the changes before students return to Exeter College and travel demand increases.

Photo of Councillor Stuart Hughes
Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “Social distancing is likely to continue even when lockdown restrictions start to ease, so the extra space will be needed for pedestrians on Queen Street, particularly when students return to the College. We recognise that the proposed changes to the road layout may cause some inconvenience to traffic, but it’s vital that we prevent pedestrians from overcrowding in Queen Street as health and safety is paramount.”

Photo of Councillor Carol Whittton
Councillor Carol Whitton

Councillor Carol Whitton, County Councillor for St David’s and Haven Banks, said: “I am delighted that this scheme will result in a doubling of the width of the pavement in the narrowest part of Queen Street which will help to keep Exeter people safe as the city moves out of the current lockdown. Thankfully, infection rates in the city have reduced dramatically over recent weeks, and the widening of the pavement in the busy section of Queen Street opposite the RAMM will help keep those rates low during these next few critical months of the pandemic as life begins to return to normal in the city centre and while we wait for the vaccination programme to be rolled out across our population.”

A public consultation was held in November on a number of road layout proposals after concerns were raised over the lack of space for the amount of people walking in Queen Street. A decision to proceed with the scheme was made by the Exeter Highways and Traffic Order Committee, within which included a review of the temporary measures at its July meeting.