We tried the new A30 and there's one big problem with the layout

We tried the new A30 and there's one big problem with the layout


That's it. After four years, a global pandemic, a scorching summer and far too much rain, closures, a six-month delay and lengthy diversions, the A30 is finally open. The 8.7 mile former bottle neck between Carland Cross and Chiverton Cross is no more.

Instead, a brand new £330m dual-carriageway has replaced it, its tarmac all shiny and clean. National Highways and its contractor Costain said ancillary work will continue for the next six months to finish off access roads, slip roads, junctions, bridges and tunnels, signage as well as a few more miles of Cornish hedges and all the planting that still needs to be done, but all in all, you can drive from Carlisle to Camborne at 70mph before the road drops back to one lane for the last 15 miles or so to Penzance.

Local residents and holidaymakers have already been driving on parts of the A30 as various trunks have opened in the last two years. But it was always single-lane and lined with traffic cones. Until yesterday (Monday, June 24), you didn't travel along the A30 between Carland Cross and Chivvy. You crawled along at top speeds of 30mph. At times it was so slow you could have walked faster.

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We put the brand spanking new A30 to the test to see what it's like and we were surprised by how fast people were driving on it. It felt like after four years of pent-up frustration, tailbacks and detours, people had some catching up to do and bombed it.

To accommodate the professional needs of CornwallLive's photographer, we went up and down the Carland to Chivy section of the A30 about three times (that's 52 miles!). While sticking to the constraints of the Highway Code for dual carriageways, we covered the Carland to Chivvy section of almost nine miles in 7 minutes and 15 seconds. 70mph all the way. We can't remember how long it would have taken in the old A30 days but this must have been a lot faster than what it used to be.

The real test of course will come in a few weeks when the schools break for the summer and tourists in their thousands pour into Cornwall for their holidays.

The new dual carriageway between Chiverton Cross and Carland Cross roundabouts on the A30 in Cornwall opens on Monday, June 24
The new dual carriageway between Chiverton Cross and Carland Cross roundabouts on the A30 in Cornwall opens on Monday, June 24 -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

We mentioned the ancillary work going on. Most drivers will not be affected too much by the fact that you cannot yet rejoin what is now the old A30 in certain places, such as at the Chybucca junction (Truro to Perranporth bridge) or further along at Zelah. Most motorists will not feel the impact of the green bridge under construction for there are no lane closures or speed restrictions in the area.

However, for the next three weeks, you can expect some chaos and confusion at Chiverton Cross roundabout where there is no direct access to the St Agnes road or to the petrol services. Despite the large signs saying otherwise, it's best to focus on the temporary yellow work signs that warn of that road being closed. You will still get surprised the first time around, I promise you. So have your best road rage swear word at the ready for the occasion.

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Having arranged to meet up with our photographer in the Starbucks car park just off Chivvy Cross, we travelled from Truro up to Chybucca, down the slip road towards Redruth with the intent to get off at Chivvy and go halfway around onto the St Agnes road. It's all coned off which certainly took us by surprise. In a panic, we took the Newquay road before turning back.

There are diversions signs in place but they were confusing and led us on a merry trip around the roundabout a few times. The black diamond sign you have to follow being in front of the diversion signs saying you have to follow the black diamond sign certainly did not clarify matters.

Horse and carts transporting hay are banned from the new A30
Horse and carts transporting hay are banned from the new A30 -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

All in all, if you want a skinny chai latte or to fill up your tank with fossil fuel, you will have to get off at Scorrier and travel through Blackwater (not Chacewater!) up to Chiverton Cross. If you want to rejoin the A30 after that, you'll have to go back the same way to Scorrier where there is access east- and westbound onto the A30.

Expect a few confused drivers on the approach to Chivvy over the next three weeks while that St Agnes road is being redone. But other than that it's been so long since the dualling work started that doing 70mph all the way feels rather liberating.... and in case you had not been too sure, cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and pony and traps are definitely not allowed on the new A30. Not that anyone needed reminding, but the signage is funny all the same!

Drivers can obtain up-to-the-minute travel information on local radio, the @HighwaysSWEST X ( Twitter ) feed, by phoning the National Highways Information Line on 0300 123 5000 or by accessing the website: www.trafficengland.com

For more information, visit https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-roads/south-west/a30-chiverton-to-carland-cross/