M32 motorway could be downgraded to A-road as part of park and ride plan

Transport chiefs have said they will investigate plans to downgrade the M32 motorway to an A-road in order to facilitate a park and ride. The statement was included in an ambitious regional transport plan that was published last week. Led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), the plan says the authority would "explore further with Highways England a strategy for the M32".

It said it would consider options including "declassification from motorway status and potentially unlock a new Park & Ride site along the M32 corridor".

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A park and ride on the M32 has been talked about for years but has yet to materialise for the simple reason that no one can agree on a location. Weca started looking at potential sites for a park and ride which could serve the motorway in early 2018. Initially it started with 17 different potential locations - but a report published by the authority at the end of 2018 suggested there was just one viable option on land west of the M32 and east of Stoke Lane.

Unfortunately, that site is home to the Sims Hill Shared Harvest, a farming cooperative which grows food for people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and as a result led to a string of objections. Get all your local traffic news, powered by In Your Area: Then in January last year Bristol mayor Marvin Rees quashed the plans completely when he said the land would not be turned into a car park for a proposed park and ride.

And while the latest version of the Joint Local Transport Plan references the need for an M32 Park & Ride in order to reduce the amount of traffic heading into Bristol city centre - there is no mention of a location. The only reference comes near the end of the 185-page report which talks about a site south of the M32 J1 to "intercept trips to Bristol".

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A spokesperson for Weca said: "As part of a series of measures to address congestion and reduce the volume of traffic into the city centre, the West of England Combined Authority allocated GBP500k to progress park and ride sites around Bristol at its meeting in October 2019. "This work will also look at bus lanes and other priority measures such as pedestrian and cycling enhancements, junction improvements, and investigate potential declassification of the M32 from a motorway to an A-road.

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"Park and Rides play a key role in the major scheme transport programme as set out in the Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP4), where a range of sites are identified including A38 (south), A37, A4 Hicks Gate, M32 corridor and A4018.

"This work is being carried out in partnership with Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council and Highways England, in consultation with bus operators and other stakeholders."

The authority confirmed that early reports on options are expected in June this year.

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