VIDEO: A43 roadworks boss: ‘We’ve been dreading this’

The man in charge of a road improvement scheme says he feared the works would cause problems for drivers.

Tony Ball, project manager for the four-mile A43 relief road south of Corby, was speaking after motorists complained of severe delays this week.

A43 link road project manager Tony Ball

A43 link road project manager Tony Ball

The partial closure of the Stanion roundabout caused chaos for traffic – and Mr Ball said he feared this stage of the £34m project would prove troublesome.

The level of the roundabout is being lowered so it can join up with the new relief road.

And Mr Ball insisted the project had to go ahead, and it was a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.

He said: “Ultimately, we’ve got all the permissions to do this and we just need to get rid of this piece of work.

Roadworks begin on the Wilby Way roundabout

Roadworks begin on the Wilby Way roundabout

“It’s the piece that we’ve all been dreading on site. We’ve gone for the short, sharp tactics, because if we’d gone for any longer, if it had been spread over a lot more time, that would have been even worse for the road-going public.

“It’s created a bit of a problem. Hopefully it will sort itself out with time.

“Once people start to know what’s going on we’re hopeful they’ll start to behave a little bit better and they’ll understand the road system.

“All I ask is for people to read the signs and think about what they’re doing, try not to make so many rash decisions.

A45 Roadworks to begin on the Wilby Way roundabout

A45 Roadworks to begin on the Wilby Way roundabout

“Occasionally we get people doing the wrong thing and that creates a back-up, you get a red light wave and it goes all the way back into Corby.

“Perhaps people aren’t understanding the signs – maybe we need to look at that.”

The county council has come under fire from motorists who say signage was not clear enough.

Many others have suggested the sheer amount of road closures were unnecessary.

David Hall, sales director at TruckEast haulage company in Wellingborough, said: “I live in Gretton and work mostly from Wellingborough, a journey that usually takes about 35 minutes.

“Both yesterday and today, following extensive detours, it was an hour-and-a-half. If I had stuck to my usual route, it would have been much longer.

“When I see this sort of thing happening, I find it hard to take seriously the spouting from both national and local politicians about the responsibility we all carry in reducing our carbon footprint.

“The same people clearly have no interest in doing so themselves or they would think before making decisions which result in the waste of so much expensive fuel let alone major disruption to both commuters and operators of large goods vehicles.”

Corby Council member Bob Riley described the delays appalling.

He said: “People will have lost a lot of money, children are late for school.

“It’s just bad management, I’m afraid. These people are paid huge salaries to get their act together and they have not. It’s the motorists that suffer.

“If I ran my business like that I would be looking for a job by now.”

But Mr Ball said delays were unavoidable.

He also rejected criticism from parents who questioned why the Stanion roundabout closure coincided with the start of the new school term, pointing out the soil’s consistency meant for each day it rained three days were needed to let the soil dry.

He said: “It got to the point where we could have started this a couple of weeks ago.

“But we felt that this was slightly better than having it on the first day of school.”

He also said the roundabout closure should be completed by the end of next week.

“Hopefully within two weeks, if the weather stays reasonable, we’ll get it (work on the Stanion roundabout) done,” he said. “If it does rain it might cause us some problems, we just don’t know. We are planning for 10 days of closures – I’m hoping it’s not going to be any longer than that.”

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman insisted the delays would not last long and would prove to have been worth it by the time the new road opens in 2014.

The spokesman added: “This is a big project and it is inevitable that there will be some disruption while some of the work takes place.

“We’ve tried to minimise this by introducing diversion routes. It’s essential that motorists follow the diversion routes so that congestion is minimised.”

More work begins

Motorists in the north of the county are also having to cope with major improvement works at Wilby Way near Wellingborough.

The work, which is set to last about five months, is designed to reduce congestion and delays at the roundabout on the A45.

Meanwhile, work to widen the A14 near Kettering is set to get under way later in the autumn.

Unlike the Corby relief road, the Highways Agency is responsible for the projects, as both the A45 and the A14 are classified as trunk roads.

An agency spokesman said: “The Highways Agency always works with partner organisations to ensure we co-ordinate any work to minimise disruption for motorists. In this case, the A45 pinch point programme work at Wilby Way roundabout has been designed so most of the work and any closures will take place at night.

“The A14 work is not scheduled to start until November and will remain two lanes in each direction, with any closures overnight or at weekends when traffic flows are lower.”

The spokesman added: “We understand roadworks can be frustrating, but we would ask people to please bear with us, as both schemes aim to bring real improvements and reduce congestion.

“There will be constant liaison with all partners to ensure the impact on road users is kept to a minimum.”

Other schemes in the pipeline which could cause disruption for motorists include plans to close the Pytchley Road railway bridge in Kettering at the end of the year.

Network Rail say the bridge has to be rebuilt to provide more space for overhead wires to be installed as part of long-term plans to electrify the line between Bedford and Sheffield.

The bridge is set to be closed between December 9 and February 14, 2014.

A6 Safety upgrades

Work designed to bring significant safety improvements to the A6 between Burton Latimer and Finedon also got under way this week.

The red route has been the scene of a number of incidents in recent months, and work to install hatchings on the wide section of the road and reduce speed limit on the stretch entering Finedon started on Monday.

The planned improvements are the result of a meeting between the police, the fire service and the county council, which is co-ordinating the project.

Work is set to last for two weeks.

In the past three years there have been 27 collisions which resulted in injuries on the stretch of road.

There have been three fatal crashes in the past year.