With the new Pewsey Road bridge about to be opened after months of traffic chaos, Marlborough is to be hit by further turmoil as other road works are about to take place.
Traders who have complained bitterly about the loss of business, especially in the run up to Christmas, are now to face traffic queues again as new gas main work restarts on the London Road and roundabout improvements also take place.
“It’s heartbreaking,” says the mayor, Councillor Andy Ross. “We thought we had just got our roads back. Now the euphoria of having a new Pewsey Road bridge open to traffic at last has been dissipated."
“But it may well be a case where we should grin and bear it until it is all over, rather than seek further delays.”
Traders were specifically told six weeks ago by Dick Tonge, Wiltshire Council’s transport spokesman, that there were no further roads works in the pipeline.
But then the Traffic and Network Planning Department announced that gas main work in London Road and Salisbury Road, deliberately delayed when work on the new bridge began, will be resumed on May 3 and continue until May 30.
During the first weekend – and possibly others – a one-way order will operate on the eastern end of George Lane, allowing traffic to travel only westbound between Salisbury Road and Culvermead Close. This is because excavations at the mouth of George Lane to connect up the new gas mains.
And it revealed too that this would be followed by resurfacing and traffic island works at the A4/A346 mini roundabouts in Barn Street on June 6 and last for two to three weeks. This is part of the planning gain obtained when Tesco was given permission for its new out of town supermarket – and is being paid for by the store.
The “good and bad news” was revealed to members of Marlborough Town Council’s planning committee on Monday by its chairman, mayor-elect Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson.
“Unfortunately it is something Wiltshire Council can do nothing about as it has no control over the major utilities and when they carry out their works,” he explained.
An attempt to delay the works, which will clash with the freedom of the town being given to No 4 Military Intelligence Battalion in June, is to be made by town clerk Liam Costello, but there is a more general feeling that it is best for all outstanding works to be completed as soon as possible.
Councillor Nick Fogg, who is also a Wiltshire councillor, pointed out that that BT, gas and electricity companies, in this case the Wales & West Utilities, were given carte blanche by the last government to carry out essential works according to their own timetable, something necessary in cases of emergency but not always at other times.
Wiltshire Council has consulted other local authorities and is making representations to current coalition transport minister.
“Perhaps we should suffer all the pain in one go,” Mr Fogg told Marlborough News Online. “The problem is that everyone suffers because we have a two-way cross traffic system in the town, and if one route is closed or reduced then congestion becomes chaotic. Perhaps it is better to get it all over with.”
One trader protested: “There is evidence that Wiltshire Council gave no consideration to the economic effects of the Pewsey Road bridge replacement in the first place. We ought to seek some form of compensation.”