Crossing closure chaos

PUBLISHED: 16:20 05 October 2007 | UPDATED: 23:06 28 May 2010

The unmade road, provided as a diversion after the level crossings were closed – Pic: Steve Williams

The unmade road, provided as a diversion after the level crossings were closed - Pic: Steve Williams

FURIOUS highways chiefs warned Network Rail contractors not to go ahead with further road closures unless they have resolved problems which caused chaos last weekend in a Fenland village. Cambridgeshire County Council reacted angrily after weekend rail re

FURIOUS highways chiefs warned Network Rail contractors not to go ahead with further road closures unless they have resolved problems which caused chaos last weekend in a Fenland village.

Cambridgeshire County Council reacted angrily after weekend rail repairs, which saw two level crossings in the village closed, residents marooned and motorists sent down an unmade road to gain access.

Villagers were left fuming after Balfour Beatty closed two crossings in Turves, leaving motorists high and dry.

Councillor Pam Potts, mayor of Whittlesey, led the call for explanations pointing out that motorists were diverted down a track "clearly unable to take the volume of traffic".

A county council spokesman rejected claims in Balfour Beatty's letter to residents which apologised for "the obvious oversight made by Cambridgeshire County Council and our road closure management company when selecting the diversionary route".

The spokesman said the company knew the rules about road closures and had been warned well in advance that proper diversions using proper roads were necessary.

"We warned them that any suggestion of using that drove was not a suitable diversion," said the spokesman. "It is certainly not a suitable road for taking traffic; it was Balfour Beatty's own decision."

The spokesman added: "We have serious concerns and we are writing to the company saying that unless we are guaranteed proper diversionary routes and the residents' needs are taken properly into consideration, we will not grant them permission to close the road this weekend.

"Furthermore, we will be looking very carefully at any other work this company will be doing."

Cllr Potts said: "That diversion route should have been made passable, and it wasn't. I'm not sure who is to blame but those motorists who did use the diversion had one or two near misses.

"They said vehicles could cross in an emergency but with a ballast train in the way, there was not much chance of that happening."

Tony Owen, project manager for Broxbourne Renewals, part of Balfour Beatty, said he had "absolutely no idea" what happened since the issue was left with a traffic management company.

"It is outside our control," he said. "They apply 12 months ahead for closures, and we approve them and assist residents where we can."

He said this weekend would involve only one crossing being closed and residents could have access.

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