Why are there THREE sets of roadworks in Northampton causing standstill traffic? The councillor in charge explains...
Motorists have faced long queues throughout the last week in the town
Motorists stuck in queues around Northampton have been demanding to know why so many are running at once.
More roadworks in Northampton added to the delays earlier this week when roadworks in Harlestone Road, which are the responsibility of the county council, started on Tuesday (March 16) and are expected to end on Tuesday (March 23).
There is a two-way temporary traffic light system in place which is causing vehicles to back up onto the busy A428 roundabout connected to Mill Lane and Bants Lane, with Mill Lane reportedly due to have roadworks on March 26 for two days.
To add to this, the county council has also organised six-week roadworks at the Spencer Bridge and St Andrews Road crossroads, which is causing queues to tail back to Harlestone Road near the Aldi supermarket.
Also, in the Weedon Road area, which is close to the Aldi supermarket, there are gas works in the new 24-hour bus lane, causing motorists to drive in single file traffic all the way to Northampton Railway Station on the A45. These works were supposed to finish on Friday (March 12) but Cadent has not yet finished at the site.
A Cadent spokesperson said: “We are pleased to say that the project on Weedon Road will be completed today (March 19). The delay in completion was due to engineering difficulties that were discovered after the works had started. We appreciate that this project has caused disruption and would like to thank local residents for their patience.”
The new 24-hour bus lane was put in place to provide a greener way of travelling for Northampton residents, but the area is now gridlocked with stationary traffic.
One disgruntled motorist messaged this newspaper voicing his frustration. He said: "To add to the misery [caused by the Spencer Bridge roadworks], there are currently long delays on Harlestone Road. Mill Road is due to close soon along with Rushmere Road.
"This town is a nightmare to navigate around. Not even a councillor's suggesting of alternative routes is any help."
The motorist is referring to the county council's Jason Smithers, who is behind the scheduled roadworks and this week called on people to use the A45 in and out of town to avoid the roadworks or use an "alternative" mode of travel to complete their journey.
This newspaper asked Northampton residents for their thoughts on the roadworks and if they could ditch their cars and make their journeys via a different way.
David Hawkins said: "Easy. Avoid Northampton as it's roadworks everywhere to use up the last of budget funding so they [county council] can get the same or more for next April. Happens every year."
Ann Flavin Sweeney said: "Says the councillor who lives in Higham Ferrers. Is it possible for him to drive these routes? And the answer is no because he lives 20 miles away and hasn’t got a clue."
Erica Barnes said: "As I previously commented, the highways department of NCC is not fit for purpose. All its so-called improvements have proved to be anything but, and no doubt this one will be too."
Hannah Rootes said: "So one of the alternative routes for some would be Mill Lane, which is also going to be closed for roadworks? It makes no sense having that many going on at the same time!"
Glenn Osborne said: "Should have been done when lockdown actually meant lockdown."
Councillor Smithers was asked a number of questions by this newspaper:
- Why has the county council decided to do the Harlestone Road works at the same time as the two other major works?
- Are all of the works going ahead now because it is March and the budget needs spending?
- What would the county council say about the pollution caused by stationary traffic?
- Why would people ditch their cars if the buses get stuck in the same traffic?
- What would you say about there being no space on the roads for bicycles? And the detrimental effects of walking past that much stationary traffic?
Councillor Smithers, who is cabinet member for Highways and Place for Northamptonshire County Council, said: “Mill Lane surfacing was planned for January 22 and February 6, but unfortunately the work could not be safely carried out due to low temperatures and snow forecasts.
"As a result, we had to make the decision to postpone works until March 26, which will be completed by March 28. We will then have a closure to repair the bridge joints overnight on April 10/11.
“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. These schemes are necessary in order to maintain the essential services and transport networks that we all depend on in the area.
“The impact of these works is temporary congestion. However, it is important to recognise that these works are temporary and are being carried out in order to improve journeys and traffic flow longer term. This will, in turn, reduce air pollution in the long run.
“In addition to the benefits to air quality from smoother traffic flow, encouraging best practice in our works is something we always consider, in order to reduce the impact on motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. We would like to thank our residents for their continued patience and understanding.”