Friday, February 8, 2013
I AM writing to express my sense of exasperation, frustration and anger at the ridiculous situation that we face in Earith every time the road floods.
To begin with, there are Floodline warning signs (presumably the responsibility of the Environment Agency) on the roads approaching Earith. These are supposed to give motorists advanced warning of the road being impassable. These signs are often left in the ‘road closed’ position long after the road has reopened, which renders them completely useless to motorists as the information they present is unreliable at best.
When the road floods right across then I can fully understand why the road should be closed. However, when the road is closed with little more than a puddle across half the road, motorists are justified in feeling that this is an infringement of their ability to conduct their journey in an appropriate way and that common sense has gone out of the window.
It is little wonder then that motorists choose to ignore the road closed signs and go around the barriers, when the road is perfectly safe to pass through. To then be confronted with police handing out tickets is beyond belief.
For those of us who live one side of the Wash and who need to get to the other, we face a 30-mile extension to our journey via Chatteris or the prospect of sitting for hours (literally) to get round Harrison Way in St Ives, which becomes completely gridlocked with the weight of traffic trying to join the A14 as a detour.
On Monday evening, I came home from Cambridge along the A14 to St Ives and had to sit in a queue that started on the exit slipway. It took me an hour to travel about three miles. It really is ridiculous – and this is only the impact on an individual. Imagine if you multiply that effect up by the hundreds and thousands of motorists who normally pass through Earith every day. The impact is huge.
When I called the Environment Agency to get to the bottom of who has jurisdiction over the decision to close the road, I was given the telephone number for Cambridgeshire County Council and told to call the Highways Department there. The number they gave me was for an emergency out of hours social worker. When I finally got to the right department at CCC, they told me it was the police I needed to speak to. I called Huntingdon police and was told it was the responsibility and decision of the Environment Agency. So much for joined-up communication!
The fact that the road needs to be closed is not at question. If it is really unsafe to drive through, then it should be closed with no access being possible in either direction. But when the road closure is not lifted promptly and is still in place long after the flood has subsided, it is inevitable that people feel aggrieved.
It’s high time something was done to ensure that this vital link is kept open. After all, we are talking about a stretch of road no more than 200 yards in length causing weeks of misery for motorists every year.