More than £220,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on temporary traffic lights in Bugbrooke over several years, FOI reveals
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The total cost of the temporary traffic lights, which have been in place over the train line bridge in Bugbrooke Road, between Gayton and Bugbrooke, for six years, is more than £220,000, according to two freedom of information (FOI) requests.
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) - the authority behind the temporary traffic lights - told this newspaper, the traffic lights were installed in partnership with Network Rail so work can be done to form a retaining wall to support the carriageway.
However, the traffic lights have been in place for years, and residents are frustrated that the road is still not open to two-way traffic. Some have also raised concerns about how much has been spent on the traffic lights.
The first FOI request asked for the exact cost of the traffic lights that are currently at the location. The entire cost of these lights, installed in April 2018, came to £206,348.46.
The second FOI request submitted asked if any temporary traffic lights had been there prior to April 2018 and the total cost of all of them, including the present temporary traffic lights.
“Further investigation” revealed there was another set of temporary traffic lights from October 2017 to March 2018, and the cost was £16,319.85. The first set of temporary traffic lights at that location was reportedly installed in October 2017.
Councillor Phill Larratt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste, said: “At the time of implementation of the traffic lights, they were meant as a temporary solution.
“It is unacceptable for them to be in place for an extensive period of time at a significant cost to the taxpayer, as well as being inconvenient for road users.”
One resident, a builder, who wished to remain anonymous, gave his opinion on what he believes to be "wrong with the bridge." He said that the road has to be repaired since, while it was built wider "probably 15 years ago," it has cracked and opened up in certain places.
He said: “They don't want people driving on it, so they have put up bollards and traffic lights to stop this. That’s the scandalous thing for me. It's still not fixed. It’s easy to fix.”
Cllr Larrat added: “There have been ongoing discussions with Network Rail as the embankment was constructed when the railway bridge was built, however, the Trief kerbs were installed in 2003 as part of a National Road/Rail improvement programme following the Selby Rail disaster, where vehicle protection measures were jointly funded by the Railway Authority and the Local Highway Authority.”
From October 2017 until the present, WNC has installed temporary traffic lights over the rail line bridge in Bugbrooke Road for a total cost of £222,668.31. Questions have now been raised and WNC says works are “anticipated” to be finished by summer 2024.
A WNC spokesperson continued: “WNC is working in partnership with Network Rail to carry out improvements between Bugbrooke and Gayton. The proposed works will include the installation of sheet piles to form a retaining wall to support the carriageway and re-open two-way traffic in this area.
“The works will improve the experience of both road users and residents in this area and are anticipated to be completed during summer 2024.”
Cllr Larratt continued: “As Cabinet Member for Highways, l and officers will continue to work with Network Rail until the issue has been resolved including the financial elements.”