Rushden Lakes shoppers are being warned they face two more weekends of closures on the A45 impacting routes in and out of the retail and leisure complex
Frustrated shoppers reported more than FOUR HOURS to escape the car park on Saturday (July 31) as a partial shutdown of the Chowns Mill roundabout, two miles along the A45, led to chaotic scenes.
Hundreds took to social media describing the situation as a "total nightmare" and "unacceptable" while video clips showed a 4x4 driving up a grass bank to beat the queues
Others claimed they saw "marshals wandering around aimlessly" and said they had missed cinema bookings through being unable to park despite allowing extra time.
Two more weekend closures are planned for August 20-23 and September 3-6.
Highways England, who were responsible for the closure as part of the £24million upgrade of the A45 junction with the A6 admitted the problems were down to hundreds of drivers ignoring diversion signs as they left the retail park.
They headed towards Rushden and ran into temporary traffic lights on Northampton Road which led to traffic backing up all the way into Rushden Lakes car park.
Highways England Construction Assurance Manager, Dermot Doherty, said: “Any road closures can be frustrating and we do all we can to minimise the number of closures needed and the impact they have.
“To minimise disruption as much as possible we have clearly signed diversion routes, agreed with the local authority, in place. We urge drivers to stick to these diversion routes.
“Those who do not follow our diversion route should be aware that there are temporary traffic lights in place on Northampton Road into Rushden which will add time to their journeys.”
Many visitors claimed the complex — which is home to around 50 shops, a dozen restaurants, Cineworld and kids' play venues — should have done more to control traffic entering and leaving.
A spokesperson for Rushden Lakes said: “We expect there will be some disruption whilst Highways England carry out road works along the A45 and we advise visitors to check before travelling to Rushden Lakes.
“We continue to feedback to Highways England, Northamptonshire Police and the local council on the recent and upcoming road closures and will be keeping our social media and website channels updated with any information on this.”
Chowns Mill junction is being redesigned to tackle congestion. The new layout will include a ‘half hamburger’ roundabout with a new link road connecting the A6 south and A5028 with the existing roundabout.
Work, which started in February 2020, is on track to allow drivers to travel through the new ‘half hamburger’ island by September but new traffic signals and lighting needs to be installed before that can happen.
To ensure the safety of road workers and road users while the work is carried out, half closures of the roundabout are taking place over three weekends, the first being last weekend.
The north half of he roundabout will be closed from 8pm on Friday, August 20, to 5am Monday, 23 August and the south half from 8pm on September 3 to 5am on September 6.