Cardiff’s Castle Street looks set to reopen to general traffic in the autumn as soon as necessary road works, road markings, and signage have been put in place to make it safe.
A recommendation to reopen the street, which was closed to help food and drink businesses remain viable during the height of the pandemic last year, will be brought before Cardiff Council’s Cabinet at its next meeting on Thursday, June17. It follows a consultation offering the public two options:
1. To allow general traffic to use the street;
2. To allow only buses, taxis and cyclists to use the street.
More than 6,227 people took part in the consultation with 53.8% believing there was a considerable benefit to reopening the road to general traffic, while 33.8% believed it was a considerable benefit to keep general traffic off the road.
In order to meet a legally-binding requirement to lower pollution on the street to acceptable limits, Castle Street will be limited to one lane of traffic in either direction for all motor vehicles. The two-way cycleway and the dedicated bus lane westbound will remain to ensure legal pollution limits are not exceeded. This represents the Council’s original plan for the road as set out in the Transport Strategy published in January 2020.
Once the road is open to general traffic, further traffic-flow modelling will take place. This modelling will allow the council to make an up-to-date assessment of air pollution across the city centre as commuters return to work and visitor numbers return to normal after the pandemic. The impact of opening the route to private cars, on both Castle Street and the surrounding areas, will also be monitored. This fresh data on post-pandemic traffic flows will then be used to inform plans to further reduce air pollution and congestion in the city.
Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, said: “Congestion and air-quality levels remain a major concern for residents. Whilst air quality is generally improving across the city, we share concerns that localised traffic congestion can cause issues in central residential areas. This is something we want to get more data about especially as things begin to return to normal and traffic numbers increase.
“The delay in implementing a more permanent layout will allow us to carry out further traffic assessments. This will give us real time, up-to-date data on traffic flows post-pandemic, as commuters and visitors return to the city. We need to understand if the switch to home-working and the rises in active travel numbers which we have seen will have a long-term effect on traffic flows.
“Many of us have become used to less traffic during the pandemic and used to the cleaner air and health benefits that brings. I don’t think any of us want to return to a traffic-congested city any time soon, which is why, we are committed to investing in walking and cycling routes and in cleaner, quicker and easily accessible public transport options. We are also committed to our plans for the South Wales Metro and looking into ways to fund new routes and stations, including continuing our feasibility work around road user charging.”