Council boss provides Northampton motorists with his alternative route to bypass standstill traffic in the town

Two sets of roadworks in busy parts of Northampton have contributed towards standstill traffic in the town

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 5:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 7:46 pm
The sign which states the works were supposed to end on March 12

The council boss behind the multiple roadworks in Northampton causing standstill traffic throughout the town has recommended the "alternative routes" motorists should use to bypass traffic.

County councillor Jason Smithers, Cabinet Member for Highways and Place for Northamptonshire County Council, said yesterday (Tuesday) that motorists should use "alternative routes" to avoid the traffic in town caused by roadworks in Weedon Road and at the Spencer Bridge Road crossroad.

The roadworks in Weedon Road are "essential" gas works and the Spencer Bridge improvement works' temporary traffic lights means just one lane is open in all four directions.

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Standstil traffic in Weedon Road

Councillor Smithers was asked: what alternative routes he would like to see motorists use to bypass the roadworks in Spencer Bridge Road, why the Weedon Road works in the new 24-hour bus lane have taken longer than expected, why both the roadworks are taking place at the same time, especially when children have returned to school, his thoughts on the negative impacts of stationary traffic on the environment and people's health, and if he will still be responsible for the area when the councils become a unitary authority on April 1.

The councillor explained the best way he believes motorists can bypass the traffic.

He said: "To bypass the roadworks in Spencer Bridge Road, there are alternative routes that motorists can take. We would recommend continuing on the A45 and then continuing onward from St Peters roundabout, using Horsemarket or the A5123.

"Alternatively, avoid the area and take an alternative route from Sixfields."

The essential gas works in Weedon Road's new 24-hour bus lane which were supposed to finish on Friday (March 12)

This newspaper went down to the A45 near the railway station on Monday (March 15), when the works first began, and saw a half-mile long queue of traffic backing up from the BP Garage at West Bridge to St Peters Roundabout in both directions.

Also, if motorists were to take a bus from town to Sixfields or vice versa, they would be stuck in the same traffic.

The councillor went on to address the Weedon Road works, which have caused part of the new 24-hour bus and cycle lane to close, forcing cyclists and buses into the same long queue as other motorists.

The councillor said: “The roadworks in the new Weedon Road bus lane are being carried out as a result of gas works.

Spencer Bridge Road was rammed again today (Wednesday)

"Unfortunately, we cannot stop essential utility works taking place and must ensure residents receive these essential services. The works are due to be completed March 24."

However, a sign at the roadworks clearly states that Cadent, which is carrying out the work, were due to finish by Friday, March 12, which was five days ago.

Cadent has been contacted for comment.

The councillor was asked why the works were not carried out before the bus and cycle lane became active.

He said: “The new bus lane in Weedon Road is a permanent scheme and is therefore unrelated to the recent, temporary roadworks being carried out on both Weedon Road and on Spencer Bridge Road. It has been put in place to improve journeys, ease congestion and ensure the bus lane is used effectively."

Cllr Smithers continued to address the timing of the works after being asked why the county council started them when pupils returned to school on March 8.

He said: “These types of essential works are carried out all year round across the county, which can include during the holidays. Works are programmed throughout the year using a variety of treatments and traffic management.

"Any works carried out are temporary and the enhancements, while potentially causing temporary inconvenience, are carried out in order to improve journeys and traffic flows in town centres.”

This newspaper also asked where the councillor will be when the county council dissolves and becomes a unitary authority, given that he is the official who is responsible for both the permanent new bus lane and the six-week roadworks in Spencer Bridge Road.

Cllr Smithers, who represents the Higham Ferrers ward, which is 20 miles and 25 minutes away from the roadworks, was also asked if he was familiar with both the Weedon Road area and Spencer Bridge Road area of the town.

He said: “I have made the decision to introduce the 24-hour bus lane in my current role as cabinet member for Northamptonshire County Council because it promotes sustainable transport in line with our commitments to tackling climate change and reflects the government’s recently released bus strategy.

"It is important to me that I should continue to fulfil my role and carry out my responsibilities right up until vesting day.

"I stand by my decisions made as Cabinet Member and will continue to do so even once the authority has come to a close. As with all decisions made by the current county council, they will be carried forward by the appropriate unitary authority, which in this case, is West Northamptonshire Council.”

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."

For more information on the harmful impact of stationary traffic, click here.