Will bus lane work bring Huntingdon to a standstill?

THE second phase of a scheme to improve bus journey times in Huntingdon has been announced by Cambridgeshire County Council – but the news is expected to cause uproar in the town. Work to give Huntingdon its first bus lane created long delays on the rin

THE second phase of a scheme to improve bus journey times in Huntingdon has been announced by Cambridgeshire County Council - but the news is expected to cause "uproar" in the town.

Work to give Huntingdon its first bus lane created long delays on the ring road, causing traffic jams throughout the day and, according to retailers, making the town a no-go area for shoppers.

There are fears the town could again grind to a halt, but CCC said it has planned the work for the school holidays in a bid to minimise disruption.

The second bus lane will be installed running eastbound from Hinchingbrooke Park Road and into Brampton Road, stopping before it reaches the turn for the railway station.

CCC says the new lane, which would also be used by the guided bus, will help cut journey times along that stretch of the road by 75 per cent.

However, town centre manager, Katy Sismore, said: "When traders hear about this second plan, I think there will be uproar. We appreciate that this is all part of the master plan to make it possible for people in Huntingdon to work in St Ives and Cambridge. We know it is to smooth the bus link between Hinchingbrooke and Huntingdon and the railway station so the guided bus can work well.

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"But we don't want to go through what we had to suffer for the first six months of 2007. I think if traders think they will have to go through that again, there will be an outcry.

"It caused a lot of work for me because I had to liaise between the county council and the suffering businesses. There was one building company whose customers couldn't get to them to place orders and they couldn't deliver any orders they did get because there was gridlock caused by daytime working on the road."

Mrs Sismore describes the building work for the first bus lane, which opened in July, as "months of pain".

Assistant project manager for the scheme, Adrian Khan, told The Hunts Post: "We are consulting on the detailed design of a bus lane at the Hinchingbrooke Park Road junction, but if the works for the bus lane do go ahead, it would not take place until next year, during the school summer holidays, when traffic is traditionally at its lightest.

"We will be doing everything we can to ensure that disruption in Huntingdon is kept to a minimum. We will advertise extensively to alert drivers to possible delays, work outside of peak hours wherever possible, and advise of any alternative routes.

"Our contractors will also be closely monitoring the works, and any effects on the roads in the surrounding area."

He added: "A new bus lane in this area could mean that bus passengers in Huntingdon benefit from a reduction of their journey time by 75 per cent over this congested section during peak periods.

"This scheme is going to mean major improvements for bus passengers in Huntingdon. When it is finished, it will mean major time savings for passengers and the bus companies. We hope people will look at the detailed designs for the scheme and let us know what they think. Improving public transport and travel choice is vital for reducing congestion and improving the environment."

Residents and business owners will be able to comment on the plans for the second stage of the bus-travel improvement scheme, estimated to cost £850,000.

They are on view at Huntingdon library (at its new, temporary, location near the police station on the ring road), Huntingdon railway station, Huntingdon Town Hall, Huntingdon bus station, the offices of Huntingdonshire District Council and Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

INFORMATION: Comments should be received by Cambridgeshire County Council by Friday, November 9.

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