Roundabout plan axed
PUBLISHED: 11:06 19 October 2007 | UPDATED: 23:06 28 May 2010
SPIRALLING costs have forced Cambridgeshire County Council to axe plans for a roundabout at the notorious A141/A605 Goosetree junction near March. Instead traffic lights will be provided to improve safety. Three years after the council pledged to find £1m
SPIRALLING costs have forced Cambridgeshire County Council to axe plans for a roundabout at the notorious A141/A605 Goosetree junction near March.
Instead traffic lights will be provided to improve safety.
Three years after the council pledged to find £1million to fund the roundabout - following a 3,500 signature petition launched by the Cambs Times - the county council has pulled the plug. Latest estimates put the cost of the roundabout at £2million, four times higher than the cost of traffic lights.
Until last Thursday the council was insisting Fenland soil was the reason for the delay, claiming its poor quality meant "extra works would therefore be required to stabilise the soil".
But on Friday, in an exclusive interview with the Cambs Times, the council's leader, Councillor Shona Johnstone, admitted for the first time that the council was re-thinking the roundabout option.
Ironically it was Cllr Johnstone, as a former cabinet member responsible for transport, who had fought for a roundabout after the death of 20-year old Amanda Burbridge. And Cllr Johnstone also phoned Amanda's father in March 2005 to tell him of the council's decision to build it.
But on Friday she admitted: "When we're going to build a big roundabout like that we need to make sure we've got it right.
"One of the things we've been looking at is whether roundabouts are the best solution. I've asked the officers to go away and have a look, because in a couple of areas in A-roads we've put up traffic lights."
Cllr Johnstone admitted "transport planners have always been nervous about traffic lights as to whether they would work and whether they would be more dangerous because of cars travelling at high speeds having to break for a red light".
But she said she had looked at the A11 near Thetford where traffic lights had been installed on a main road and "this isn't a problem". Although the lights caused lengthy delays she insisted: "There's a difference between queuing traffic, which holds traffic up, and whether they are dangerous because traffic has to break for a red light. "It's an example where traffic lights have been put in on a major road and they are not a safety hazard.
"So we're looking at what is the best solution because events have moved on since I first gave a commitment that we would do something about that junction. That commitment still remains.
"We have a commitment that we will start work on that junction in this financial year, and that is a commitment I am happy to go public with".
She argued that three years ago a roundabout was the only solution. "We've done further work," she explained. "What's coming through in terms of dealing with the issue of the soil structure is that it will cost money."
On Tuesday, in a hastily prepared statement, Councillor Mac McGuire, the county council's lead transport member for environment, said building a roundabout would mean shifting resources from other projects.
Traffic lights, he insisted, "could be the answer to improving safety at this junction".