Chowns Mill junction finished ahead of schedule with tree planting ceremony
The £24m improvement scheme started in February 2020 and was set for completion by winter 2021/22.
A £24m project to improve the A45/ A6 Chowns Mill junction has been completed with a ceremonial tree planting ceremony, with speed restrictions to be removed next week.
Staff from National Highways, contractors Carnell and local dignitaries attended the ceremony in the middle of the 'half-hamburger’ roundabout that is now fully open from every direction.
The work at Chowns Mill Roundabout, where the A45 is crossed by the A6, was carried out to ease severe congestion and bottlenecks and to improve safety.
Starting in February 2020, the improvements saw the A45 and A6 approaches widened to provide extra traffic lanes and the creation of an additional roundabout section on the south side of the existing roundabout - the so-called 'half-hamburger' due to its resemblance to a burger in a bun.
National Highways' Chowns Mill project manager Dean Holloway said: "Its a project that the community wanted for some time. Any project that finishes early is great.
"We're very pleased and we have had fantastic feedback from the community. It's improved journey times. It's a success."
The contractors were able to keep on schedule due to the lighter than normal traffic due to do fewer commuters and less freight on the roads.
Adrian Oulds, business director for contractor Carnell, said: "We tried to work when the traffic was lighter. It's been a great team effort with all the other contractors."
Mr Holloway added: "There are additional lanes, 40 new columns (lampposts), clear road markings and an illuminated gantry with low energy LED lights.
"We took our environmental role very seriously. We have planted 1,700 trees and shrubs at this junction and another 300 near to Stanwick Lakes."
Planting the ceremonial Rowan tree were the two MPs whose constituencies meet at the junction - MP for Wellingborough Peter Bone and Tom Pursglove, MP for Corby and East Northants.
The pair had been backing calls for improvements to the junction starting with a campaign in 2013.
Mr Pursglove said: "It's been a stunning effort and now to see the project come to fruition - it's a brilliant effort. This really is improving the quality of life for people in the area.
"We have a much safer roundabout in place and it's better for the environment."
Mr Bone said: "It's wonderful. It is so easy to use and the flow of traffic is so much quicker. It's been a good team effort and it's a road project that has finished early.
"It's great for the environment because before you had cars queuing pumping out fumes".
Attending the ceremony was executive member for highways, travel and assets at North Northants Council, Cllr Graham Lawman.
He said: "I have driven round it several times and it's fantastic. I negotiated it successfully and it flowed beautifully. It's a welcome addition to the local infrastructure network and it will enable businesses, logistics companies and commuters to make their journeys.
"The next big project is the Isham bypass and we want to extend the dual carriageway between Stanwick and Thrapston."
Speed restrictions on the approaches to the newly remodelled junction will be completely removed on Friday, December 17.
Over the length of the project the team has supplied more than £3,000 worth of items to three local food banks, tackled dangerous and unauthorised parking at Stanwick Lake, which often led to vehicles backing up along the busy A45, by painting double yellow lines to manage parking.
They also donated three ornate, carved benches to Higham Ferrers made from the Three Oak, felled to make way for the scheme, supplied Stanwick Voluntary Group with £1,700 worth of trees for the pocket park, donated cones to schools to help keep children in bubbles and safe during Covid and donated £3,000 sponsorship to Community Initiative to Reduce Violence to help young people at risk of becoming involved in violence or gangs.
Leader of North Northamptonshire Council Jason Smithers said: "I was here from day one and I am really pleased. It looks good - the cars are moving. The guys have done it two months early.
"The communication with the community has been fantastic. They kept everyone up to speed.
"It's fantastic for the economy - no-one likes to be stuck in traffic. I will now put pressure on the Government to get the Stanwick to Thrapston dual carriageway.
"It will link the M1 all the way across to the A14 and open up a strategic route through Northamptonshire."