A business leader has lashed out at the “lack of urgency” involved in repairs to a gas pipe which have led to the closure of a key road in Huntingdon.
John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said the work, at the Stukeley Road-St Peters Road junction, was having a major impact on attempts to get the economy going again after the coronavirus crisis and was also a huge inconvenience to residents who had to make a big diversion to get past the site of the repair.
The road was originally closed at the Iron Bridge in June for eight weeks but the repairs have taken longer than expected and are now not scheduled to be complete until towards the end of this month.
Gas firm Cadent closed off the road and part of the car park at the Lidll supermarket, which is adjacent to the damaged pipe, to carry out repairs.
But Mr Bridge, who lives close to the repair site, attacked Cadent over the speed the firm was taking, saying staff did not appear to be working after hours or at weekends.
“They are not treating it with the urgency it deserves,” said Mr Bridge, whose organisation represents businesses across the county. “I think they should end this traffic chaos.”
Mr Bridge said: “We are trying to get the economy going after coronavirus, and what we don’t want is to have these barriers in the way.
“I understand that the work needs done but they did have eight weeks to do it in the first place.”
A Cadent spokesman said: “This is a complex engineering task and the work must be carried out to help ensure residents, businesses and community facilities continue to enjoy safe and reliable gas supplies for cooking, heating and hot water.
“As with all our work we have endeavoured to complete the job as soon as possible but due to their nature sometimes jobs repairs to the gas network can often take longer than first thought, due to the engineering challenges involved.
“Throughout our work we have liaised closely with the local authorities and we’re doing all we can to complete the work as promptly as possible with minimal disruption.”
The spokesman said: “Our engineers have been working extended hours and weekends to get the job done, this included working over the bank holiday weekend.
“There are currently four locations where we have been working, so people may not always see us in the same locations and may sometimes see areas cordoned off with no engineers on site.
“The job has included moving heavy materials, drilling, welding and gas pressure testing and it needs to be carried out in a controlled environment, with work areas closed off, to ensure the safety of both the public and our workforce.”
He added: “The excavations and associated traffic management also need to be maintained so engineers to can carry out the required repairs and testing operations at the work sites.
“We’re sorry for any disruption this essential work may be causing and currently we anticipate the work should be completed by Sunday 20 September.”