Action needed on Huntingdon ring road

DESPITE a number of major developments proposed in and around Huntingdon, there are no specific plans to address the congestions problems on the ring road, The Hunts Post has been told.

Aside from the approved link road west of the town centre, which it is claimed will provide “significant relief” to the northern section of the road, the only scheduled improvement to the hated one-way system is some resurfacing work between the Ermine Street and Hartford Road junctions, due to take place next month.

Councillor Colin Hyams, the Mayor of Huntingdon, said that the proposed Bearscroft Farm development and the major work at Alconbury, as well as future housing plans in the district, meant that Huntingdon’s infrastructure must be seriously considered.

“The people of Huntingdon are going to have to get used to more congestion,” he said. “It’s a fact of life.”

He added: “Huntingdon is the main market town and something has got to be done.

“If you are going to maintain the main shopping centre at Huntingdon you have to seriously consider how you are going to keep it moving.”

Cllr Hyams is a member of the committee tasked with reviewing the Huntingdon and Godmanchester market town transport strategy. The members are due to meet again in early December.

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The Ermine Street/George Street link road was one of five improvements suggested in the original strategy, first published nine years ago.

The schemes, costing a total of �3.9million, also included building contra-flow lanes between the Old Bridge and Hartford Road and from Hartford Road to the fire station.

Cambridgeshire County Council investigated a number of possible solutions to the town’s congestion, which it said placed a “stranglehold” on the town’s vitality and would reach “unacceptable levels” if nothing was done.

Key conclusions were that “do-nothing” was not an option but two-way operation of the ring road would “not work in terms of capacity and safety”.

The county council’s work was prompted by the findings of a report published by the Civic Trust Regeneration Unit in October 2000, which described the ring road as a “concrete collar” and said it was one of six areas in Huntingdon that should be improved if the town was to thrive.

Since then, just one major scheme has been completed – the building of the contra-flow bus lane between George Street and the bus station.

The Civic Trust’s proposals for a radical look at accessibility in and around Huntingdon also included diverting through traffic away from the town centre, as well as the effect of changing part or all of the ring road to two-way flow.

A spokesman for HDC said: “Before the first market town transport strategy was approved for Huntingdon and Godmanchester in June 2003, the county council carried out transport modelling investigating this issue.

“Without other measures, junctions, road capacity etc, it was concluded that it was simply not possible to make a simple change to two-way operation.”

He said that changes in proposed development and the proposals for the A14 would render the other potential solutions identified obsolete.

He added: “The market town transport strategy for Huntingdon and Godmanchester is now being reviewed. I cannot say what the outcomes will be but it is fair to say that two-way working on the ring-road is not being investigated, particularly given the continuing A14 discussions.”