HUNTINGDON motorists fed-up with delays on the ring road have been told: It s going to get worse. From Sunday until Wednesday, May 3, engineers will be laying a new drain to take surface water as part of the work to build a contraflow bus lane in Walden R

More delays are expected

HUNTINGDON motorists fed-up with delays on the ring road have been told: It's going to get worse.

From Sunday until Wednesday, May 3, engineers will be laying a new drain to take surface water as part of the work to build a contraflow bus lane in Walden Road.

The town's first bus lane - the only one in the county from which taxis will be banned - is aimed at cutting up to 10 minutes off journeys from the west of the town via Brampton Road in preparation for the arrival of guided bus services in February 2009.

Instead of traffic lights, workers will use three-way stop-go boards, which project manager Mike Eatock said would be more responsive to traffic build-up.

Much of the work will be carried out outside peak hours to reduce disruption, but it will still be severe, Mr Eatock predicted.

The first phase of the scheme involves building a manhole at the George Street/Walden Road junction. During this phase the straight-on movement from George Street (east) into George Street (west) will be prohibited.

Any traffic wishing to carry out this manoeuvre will have to turn right and travel around the ring road and then turn left into George Street (west) towards the railway station.

Phase two involves laying and connecting a drain across the left-turn section from George Street (west) into St John's Street. Work will be carried out during off-peak hours and stop/go boards will be used.

When drainage work is completed, re-surfacing will then be carried out at the junction. This will be undertaken in off-peak hours using the three-way stop/go boards.

The whole bus lane project is on schedule for completion by the end of June.

"We appreciate that this work will cause severe disruption and we have tried to minimise the impact of these works as much as possible, Mr Eatock said.

"We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused and would like to thank people for their patience.

"We would also like to emphasise that local businesses will be open as usual throughout all of these works. We always consider all of the options when carrying out work like this, especially in such a busy area.

"Carrying out the work in this manner means that it can be done much more safely and quickly. Once finished, this scheme should see a real improvement for public transport."

But he denied that the project was responsible for the gridlock experi-enced by many motorists on several days last week, when a circuit of the ring road was taking up to 30 minutes.

"It has been an absolute nightmare for us and we automatically take the flak for it."

He blamed a combination of issues - disruption on the A14, traffic merging too early for the single-lane section, reducing the roads capacity to store queuing vehicles, and another county council project on an adjacent site to re-develop Princes Street.

"We seem to get peaks and troughs that we can't explain, but I'm having a meeting with Cleggs (the developers). We tell suppliers not to deliver before 9.30am but sometimes they turn up early."

Mr Eatock said mapping of underground utility services in the road was poor, and a variety of them - gas, water, high and low voltage electricity, cables and telephones - had been found at various depths beneath the old road, on top of which the current one had been laid.

"It's a nightmare. The utility companies just don't have pinpoint accuracy of either direction or depth. It's a maze in there."

Archaeologists also found a mediaeval burial ground on the Walden Road verge near the library, believed to be the remains of the lost mediaeval church of St Botolph.

All the bones from the "charnel pit", believed to be more than five centuries old, have been removed. Foundations from an earlier settlement on the site were also discovered under the road.

INFORMATION: The project team on 01223 712110 or from www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/waldenroad