Friday, 22 October 2010

Creating a better traffic jam

The four major road schemes at Progress Road, Victoria Circus, Cuckoo Corner and the central seafront are approaching completion. These projects should improve traffic flow and in the case of the seafront give this important area a much needed face lift. However I would be surprised if you have not wondered why we have undertaken four such significant schemes at the same time, and also simultaneously allowed the utility companies to continue to cause disruption to other roads across the Town. You may even have sat in a traffic jam fuming at the incompetence of the Council.
Let me say a few words in our defence. We received confirmation from the government in late 2009 that we were being allocated over £25M to deliver the four schemes in question but that the money had to be spent in its entirety by no later than March 2011. There was no option but to undertake the schemes simultaneously or lose the money. Significant preparation was undertaken to try to keep disruption to a minimum to include working with contractors to keep carriageways open during rush hours, requests to the utility companies to avoid work at the same time, reduction of work on the seafront during the school holidays to reduce the effect on business, and an attempt to get as much done as possible to the carriageways prior to the pre Christmas rush. There has also been an ongoing publicity campaign to keep residents, visitors and businesses updated on the plans. Unfortunately we do not have the power to stop road works by utility companies and their activities during the last few months has been frustrating and annoying. However we are now well advanced with all four large and complex projects and remain on target and on budget. If we had rejected the money we would have been open to valid criticism so let us hope that this short term pain will be worth a long term gain.

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