Road closure chaos predicted

THE controversial closure of Ridgmont Road in this week could create a 35 per cent increase in city centre traffic, opponents have warned.

The decision by Railtrack to permanently close the road has been criticised by District Council's portfolio holder for transport Malcolm MacMillan, who is calling for a delay.

He claims a survey by Mouchel, carried out on behalf of the Highways Partnership, has shown the closure will increase traffic in Victoria Street by 31 per cent, while traffic levels in London Road will rise by up to 40 per cent during the rush hour.

The Alma Road junction will also be severely affected according to the survey. It predicts a 37 per cent increase in traffic during peak times.

Councillor MacMillan is calling on Railtrack to delay the closure until a through traffic survey can be completed and the full impact on city centre congestion can be assessed.

He said: "You don't need a degree in traffic planning to assess the impact of a 40 per cent increase in traffic at the junction of Victoria Street and Alma Road during morning and evening rush hours chaos seems such an inadequate word."

Councillor MacMillan believes Ridgmont Road residents could end up as prisoners in their own homes with vehicles blocking the road if a full car park leads to obstructed exits to Alma Road and London Road.

However, Railtrack insist that the closure is necessary to prevent the road being used as a "rat run" by motorists.

The company closed the road on Monday for repair work predicted to last two weeks, after which time the only access will be for residents and commuters using the station car park.

Because of Ridgmont Road's status as a private road, the company does not have to seek authorisation from the Highway's Partnership.

But Railtrack insists it has the backing of the majority of residents.

4:35pm Thursday 15th August 2002

By Shannon Price