New delay for £30m A120 bypass for Little Hadham
The opening of the long-awaited A120 bypass between Bishop's Stortford and Little Hadham has been delayed again – putting virtually a year behind schedule.
Highways authority Hertfordshire County Council has confirmed that the expected completion date for the £30m project is now "winter 2021-22".
When construction began in July 2019 the route was set to be operational within 18 months, but in July 2020 a delay until late summer this year was announced and now the programme has slipped again.
According to the county council and contractor GRAHAM, "social distancing measures imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic have had an impact on the overall efficiency and productivity of key construction activities on-site".
However, the project has passed another milestone with the completion this month of Mill Mound Bridge, the final major structure.
It carries a bridleway over the new bypass, as well as providing farm access and allowing animals such as deer to cross the busy A-road safely. The public right of way was closed for safety reasons during construction work, with a long diversion route in place for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
Members of the project team gathered on-site to mark its formal opening. Cllr Phil Bibby, HCC's cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "I would like to thank our contractor, GRAHAM, and all of the wider team for their continued efforts in ensuring this project has kept moving despite the unprecedented circumstances they have found themselves working in during the pandemic.
"I would also like to extend my thanks to the local community for their continued support and patience. I'm sure the reopening of this popular bridleway will be very welcome locally, and I'm pleased that we're making good progress towards opening the new bypass this winter."
GRAHAM contracts director Dave Woodcock said: "We're pleased with progress so far and completion of the new Mill Mound Bridge is an important milestone in this fantastic project.
"We're now looking forward to delivering the next stage of our work, which, once complete, will bring a great many safety, environmental and general road user benefits to Hertfordshire. I'm often very proud of the work that our team undertakes and for how they rise to the challenge – delivering safely and well both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic."
The 2.4-mile (3.9km) bypass, to the north of Little Hadham, will alleviate congestion at the notorious traffic lights in the centre of the village. As part of the scheme in partnership with the Environment Agency, new road embankments along the River Ash and Albury Tributary will act as flood defences.
The scheme has been funded by Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and money secured by the LEP from the Department for Transport, as part of a wider funding package with the county council and the Environment Agency.
Adam Wood, head of infrastructure and regeneration at Herts LEP, said: "The Little Hadham bypass is vital to future-proofing this key section of Hertfordshire's road network to accommodate further growth and we are delighted with the progress made to date despite the challenges of the pandemic."