Unauthorised weekend work on Northgate End multi storey car park led to traffic chaos in Stortford town centre
Traffic chaos which led to Bishop's Stortford town centre grinding to a halt on Saturday (March 19) was mainly caused by unauthorised weekend work on the multi-storey car park at Northgate End.
Motorists fumed, appointments were missed and businesses suffered a loss in trade as jams blocked the town throughout the day. Besides the temporary 24/7 traffic signals at Northgate End, which was the major cause of the chaos, there were temporary four-way lights at the Hockerill crossroads and roadworks in Windhill.
Stortford's Cllr Graham McAndrew, who is deputy cabinet member for highways and transport on Hertfordshire County Council, outlined to the Indie the range of works that had been planned for the weekend and revealed the issue with the Northgate End works.
An email from the Network Management team at County Hall said: "We had authorised works on Hockerill junction to accommodate Affinity Water works. Due to the location, we fully anticipated these would cause delays and therefore programmed the works for the weekend with extended working and manual control to ease congestion as much as possible.
"In addition, the works were advertised on our social media platforms and to the local member in advance to help inform customer journeys.
"What ultimately led to the level of congestion experienced were the temporary signals for the Northgate End car park development which we had not authorised for weekend working.
"In light of the issues this past weekend we have reiterated to the Northgate End car park developer that their permit does not allow for weekend working and that no future works should take place over a weekend. They have confirmed they will cease all future weekend working activity."
Works on the B1004 Windhill planned for Saturday (March 26) by UK Power Solutions have been deferred.
There are roadworks at The Causeway's junction with Adderley Road from Friday to Sunday this weekend and next weekend.
"These works are to facilitate an Affinity Water connection to the paddling pool, which I understand there is eagerness to deliver," says the email from Network Management.
"The works were previously programmed under a full road closure of A1250 The Causeway. Following various discussions and site meetings we have managed to reduce the traffic management down to lane closures, therefore keeping the network open, albeit reduced.
"The works have been programmed for weekend working to avoid Northgate End car park development works which are authorised for weekdays only. We had looked to undertake these works at night but due to nearby residential properties and the noise levels expected this was not an option.
"The M11 and Essex Highways works to Birchanger roundabout have caused additional disruption to Bishop's Stortford and we are therefore co-ordinating works with an extra level of scrutiny. This is in spite of the increased pressure we are under to facilitate the delivery of multiple schemes, mostly relating to development sites."
* The temporary 24/7 traffic signals and footpath closure at the Northgate End car park site are to continue for longer as construction works have been extended to May 1.
A notice from Herts County Council says: "This extension is due to a number of engineering difficulties on site. As a result of this extension we are currently replanning various works to avoid unnecessary disruption to the network."