Two ends of the same road, separated by a only few yards could finally be linked up to help relieve traffic congestion on Saints and Cobblers matchdays.
The two separate lengths of St James Mill Road – which begin near the KFC restaurant in Towcester Road and near the Thomas Becket pub in St James – are divided by a disused railway line. Now it looks likely that Network Rail will decommission the line in October, so a new stretch can be built to join the two roads.
Graham Croucher, secretary of St James Residents’ Association, said: “Hopefully this will make a real difference .
“On matchdays you get the supporters’ traffic hitting the shoppers coming home and it’s absolute gridlock.
“This will help the flow along Weedon Road and St James Road.
“St James Mill Road is only part of the wider traffic solutions, but it is a large chunk of it.” Residents also want to see the Thomas Becket junction improved after many accidents and near misses there, but any improvements have so far been deemed too expensive.
The cost of the St James Mill Road link will dramatically reduce the cost of that scheme as decommissioning the rail line means only a road is needed, rather than a bridge, the design and engineering cost of which may have run into millions of pounds.
The two main obstacles to joining the two stretches of St James Mill Road are funding and the disused railway line. The old Northampton-to-Bedford line runs through the land where the roads would meet. The track bed is owned by Network Rail, which can decommission it. The rail body has been reluctant to dispose of the land in case a revived rail service – for which a campaign group is lobbying – ever became a reality. That looks unlikely as building has already taken place on the track bed at Olney, although any future line could go round that. The funding problem can be all but solved by Network Rail as well. Decommissioning the line means only a highway, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, need be built to link the roads, rather than a bridge, which could cost millions. The land is near the Enterprise Zone so it is possible the link could be paid for by an incoming company.