Bus lane rumpus
A PLANNED bus lane on a busy stretch of road in Huntingdon has been described as the worst use of public money in a generation. The 150-metre bus lane has been proposed for Brampton Road as part of a scheme put forward by Cambridgeshire County Council.
A PLANNED bus lane on a busy stretch of road in Huntingdon has been described as "the worst use of public money" in a generation.
The 150-metre bus lane has been proposed for Brampton Road as part of a scheme put forward by Cambridgeshire County Council. The works are part of a bigger project aimed at making bus journeys shorter and crossing the road safer.
The Brampton Road scheme, which also includes a new crossing for children heading to Hinchingbrooke School, is set to cost £850,000.
However, the bus lane element has attracted its critics as it runs for 150m before rejoining the main carriageway.
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On Wednesday, members of Huntingdon Town Council added their names to the list of critics.
Councillors claimed CCC was wasting money when it does not have enough cash to build a safe crossing on the A141 where 16-year-old Warren Hay was killed.
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Councillor Douglas Adams told the meeting: "They are spending £850,000 to save less than two minutes - by the time they have finished this will be at the rate of nearly half a million a minute.
"In four or five years, the whole thing will have to be reconsidered because the viaduct will be coming down. I have never seen a more inappropriate use of public money in my life."
He added: "There are 1,400 homes, a hospital and two schools in this area. The construction will cause a 20-minute delay at peak times on an estate where there are no services, no shops and no doctors. The bus lane will significantly add to the journey time for people living in these homes and the town council is sceptical if there will be any more bus use."
The scheme has also caused concern among residents of Scholars Avenue. The current island crossing would be replaced with a new pedestrian crossing close to Scholars Avenue.
Cllr Brian Luckham told the meeting: "The scheme will mean creating areas where it is unsafe to cross the road. How can it be that the county council can't find the money for a crossing on a road where a teenager has died, but they can spend £850,000 for a bus lane that nobody wants?"
A CCC spokesman said the improvements were more than simply cutting times for bus travel, as they included a toucan crossing, remodelling of junctions to improve safety, and allowing the bus lane to be used by ambulances and police cars. A new lay-by is also being created for school buses.
He added: "Far from being removed if the A14 viaduct is demolished, the bus lane will complement the scheme and could be extended. This will be vital to encourage people to use public transport with more traffic using the area."
The spokesman said funding had been provided by developers and could only be used in this area of Huntingdon.
He added: "We are striving to find third party funding for the A141 and would look forward to any offers from the town council which built Jubilee Park and which, through the planning process, was made aware by our road safety experts that a safe access for pedestrians and cyclists was needed."
Town councillors voted to lodge an objection to the bus lane.
n Members of the Blue Vision Twirling Team, who are leading the Christmas lights parade through Huntingdon on Saturday, will carry posters supporting the Warren Hay Road Safety Action Group.
The group will also be selling wristbands and t-shirts in aid of the group, which is hoping to raise money for a footbridge or light-controlled crossing on the A141 in Huntingdon.
Jo Bathurst, troupe leader, said: "We do not want to distract people from the Christmas lights celebration but believe it is a good opportunity to raise awareness of a very worthy campaign that has touched the hearts of so many. As a community group we support what Maxine Hay and the action group are doing and back them all the way."
The parade will go along the High Street to Market Square, where the lights will be switched on at about 4.30pm.