Council boss backs roadworks causing traffic chaos in Northampton and advises motorists to "use alternative routes"
"We hope any inconvenience will be tolerated for the duration of the works"
Northampton motorists are being urged to "use alternative routes" by the county council boss behind the Spencer Bridge Road roadworks, which is causing traffic chaos throughout the town.
Improvement work got under way yesterday (Monday, March 15) at the crossroads of Spencer Bridge Road and St Andrew's Road with just one lane open in all four directions and temporary traffic lights.
Yesterday's traffic, on the works' first day, saw half-mile queues in all four directions of the crossroads, which then had a knock-on effect in other parts of the town.
Jason Smithers, Cabinet Member for Highways and Place for Northamptonshire County Council, has advised motorists to use alternative routes.
He said: “These works are programmed for six weeks and we use temporary traffic lights to manage the traffic and keep it moving. The final week of the works will be night closures to resurface the junction. We advise motorists to use alternative routes during our works and allow additional time for their journey."
Cllr Smithers went on to say the traffic management will be in place 24/7 for the full six weeks of the works.
He said: “We have worked continually throughout lockdown carrying out improvement works across the county. To ensure the safety of the public and our workforce, the works will be carried out under lane and road closures. The traffic management will be in place 24/7 for the duration of the works.
“The existing traffic signals and controlled pedestrian crossing points were turned off on the first day of the project at 9.30am. Temporary four-way signals - including pedestrian crossing - will be in operation 24/7 until the new, permanent equipment is installed and turned on. Traffic will be reduced down to one lane on all approaches.
“When programming works, we consider the impact on all pedestrians and road users and plan our works to minimise disruption. We do understand the restrictions will be inconvenient but works can only be completed safely and efficiently with this in place.
"We hope any inconvenience will be tolerated for the duration of the works, as this scheme will significantly improve to the area."
The county councillor went on to address the impact the traffic jams have on emergency vehicles and how to overcome the issues, this comes after an ambulance with its blue lights on was reportedly stuck in the traffic yesterday.
The councillor urged drivers to move out of the way for emergency workers, although judging on yesterday's traffic there are not many places for motorists to go.
Cllr Smithers said: “With regard to the impact on emergency vehicles, Northamptonshire Highways reviewed and made any necessary changes to the traffic management yesterday. Access is always maintained and emergency services have been made aware of works.
“We have to reduce traffic down to one shuttle lane in order to operate temporary signals and control traffic safely. We have many areas on the lane closure approaches where stationary traffic could pull into if required to make way for emergency vehicles.
“There are also footways on both sides of the carriageway on all approaches to the works that members of the public should mount to move out of the way (as per any other emergency vehicle event). We urge drivers to be considerate and move out of the way of emergency services.
“We also have two full time traffic management operatives on site who can hold lights on red if and when required for emergency vehicles.”
The roadworks have come at the same time as a new 24-hour bus lane which is just before the Spencer Bridge roadworks in Weedon Road and St James. This means that for 1.2 miles, from the start of the bus lane to the Spencer Bridge roadworks, that there is just one lane for motorists into town.
On top of that, there has also been lengthy queues just before the start of the bus lane at the Weedon Road Roundabout, as shoppers try to get into Sainsbury's, Marks and Spencers and the other retail units in the Sixfields area.
According to the RAC's website, The Royal College of Physicians estimate 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this.
An RAC spokesman said: "Idling increases the amount of exhaust fumes in the air.
"These fumes contain a number of harmful gasses including carbon dioxide, which is bad for the environment and contributes towards climate change, as well as a range of other harmful gasses including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons which are linked to asthma and other lung diseases."
It is not known where Cllr Smithers will be based come April 1 when the councils become a unitary authority. And it is not known who, or which department, will take over the monitoring of the works.
Cllr Smithers represents the Higham Ferrers ward, which is 20 miles and 25 minutes away from the roadworks.
For more information on the harmful impact of stationary traffic, click here.