THE leader of Portsmouth City Council hopes traffic misery will now be brought to an end after a contentious bus lane was reopened to all road users.
Work between Havisham Road and Church Street near the city centre has been completed to allow cars to move across and have access to three lanes.
I am pleased this has been done and I am expecting people’s journey times into Portsmouth during peak times to be cut in half.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Tory councillor Donna Jones decided to overrule traffic boss Ken Ellcome and scrap the 100m bus lane after a backlash from motorists who said it was causing huge problems getting into the city.
Cllr Jones hopes the move will cut journey times into Portsmouth ‘by half’ and help traffic to move freely again.
And she is pleased the work has been done in time for the summer as the city gears up for major events such as the America’s Cup World Series and Victorious Festival.
But cycle campaigners say they will ‘wait and see’ before deciding if the change improves the situation.
Cllr Jones said: ‘A common-sense approach was needed towards traffic flow in and out of the city, particularly at rush hour.
‘Since the dedicated bus lane was implemented at the bottom of the M275, and the motorway was reduced from three lanes to two, the queues of traffic often stretched back as far as the M27.’
She added: ‘I’m pleased this has been done, and I’m expecting people’s journey times into Portsmouth during peak times to be cut in half.’
Drivers started using the former bus lane on Monday after the alterations to the road were made at the weekend.
The move is being tested for six months, and the bus lane could be brought back if congestion worsens.
Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, was against the lane being scrapped as he was concerned about the safety of cyclists and feared it would lead an increase in cars on the road.
‘We will have to wait and see what effect it will have on journey times and safety,’ he said.
‘I’ve had a chat with one of our members who goes that way quite a lot and they said they felt a bit more exposed going down there.’
‘It’s an experimental change and we will respond to the council with our view the change has had.’
The lane was introduced by the former Lib Dem administration last year to coincide with the introduction of the city’s park-and-ride service.
Lib Dem traffic spokeswoman Lynne Stagg warn scrapping the lane will cause ‘chaos’.
‘It’s a mad idea,’ she said. ‘All it will do is pile the traffic down Market Way.’
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