Hi-tech link for town junctions

A SOPHISTICATED £640,000 computer-controlled system linking the four main junctions in St Neots town centre is set to be installed to cut traffic jams and reduce emissions. The town centre is one of five air quality management areas in Huntingdonshire b

A SOPHISTICATED £640,000 computer-controlled system linking the four main junctions in St Neots town centre is set to be installed to cut traffic jams and reduce emissions.

The town centre is one of five "air quality management areas" in Huntingdonshire because of the level of pollution by oxides of nitrogen that comes from vehicle exhausts.

But that could soon be a thing of the past if councillors on Monday back installation of the demand-responsive Scoot (split cycle optimisation technique) at the town's four key junctions - Market Place/New Street/High Street, Tebbutts Road/Tan Yard/New Street, Tebbutts Road/Huntingdon Road, and Huntingdon Road/High Street/Cambridge Street.

Linking in three pedestrian crossings - two in Market Square and one in the High Street, near Church Walk - to the control system would add £90,000, and a fourth in Cambridge Street could be added after an £80,000 refurbishment.


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The measures are part of a proposed market town strategy for the town that will be considered by the Huntingdonshire traffic management committee, which includes councillor from the district council and Cambridgeshire County Council, which is the highway authority.

The plan received overwhelming public support in a recent public consultation, generating a positive response from 88 per cent of those who commented.

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Traffic management measures in the plan, including the traffic control system and crossing upgrades, total almost £1.1million.

There are also plans for £6million improvements to pedestrian and cycling facilities in the town, including the new £2.5million river bridge to which the public voted part-funding from the National Lottery late last year.

There was also overwhelming support for measures to encourage the use of public transport, including rolling out real time information and improving the provision of timetable information in the town centre.

Scoot works by co-ordinating traffic lights at the junctions to improve the flow of vehicles through the town.

The idea has been around for more than 40 years, though the system planned for St Neots is updated software based on a 1980s design from the then Transport and Road Research Laboratory.

Planners believe co-ordination of the signals is vital not just to smoothing traffic flow and reducing pollution but to cutting the number of accidents involving pedestrians for whom the system will also cater.

The plan includes upgrading four further pedestrian crossings at some stage - at St Neots Road, Eaton Ford, two in Great North Road, Eaton Socon, near Bushmead Road and St Mary's Church, and at Cromwell Road, near Henbrook Road.

For the longer term, a northern relief road, including a new river crossing, could be investigated.

If the plan is endorsed on Monday, it will then go to the county and district council's cabinets for approval.

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