Crisis meeting to be held over roadworks problemsBy Nick Edmondson
October 09, 2012
A SPECIAL meeting has been called between South East Water and Rushmoor and Hampshire councils to address the traffic chaos caused by water main works in Aldershot.
The works to replace an 80-year-old water main on Ash Road have caused pandemonium as the surrounding residential streets are clogged with traffic as lorries and HGVs ignore diversions.
Homeowners on Church Lane East, Church Hill and Christmas Avenue have warned that the number of drivers using their roads as a rat run are causing an accident waiting to happen, with frequent near misses as children come home from school.
Hampshire County Council and Rushmoor Borough Council will meet with representatives for South East Water on Thursday (October 11) in hope of finding a way to speed up the works, which are expected to last at least six months.
Rushmoor councillor Alex Crawford said: "At this stage I believe the councils must work with South East water to minimise disruption by speeding up the work by employing as many workmen on site as practicable, ensuring clear signposting for different sorts of vehicle and opening up Ash Road as far as possible when work is not in progress."
South East Water has admitted that only four men are at work on the site at any one time, but claims any more workers would be counterproductive by overcrowding the site.
Claire Knox, of Church Road, said: "The diversion is causing chaos along here. We have 40-foot lorries and three extra bus routes changing along a road that's just not designed to cope with this much extra traffic. "At school dropping off and picking up times it is a nightmare. The poor lollypop man takes his life into his own hands trying to cross the children over the road outside St Michael's school. The traffic is at a complete standstill."
Councillor Mel Kendal, deputy leader and executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: "These are statutory works by the utility company and whilst we work closely with them when programming works to minimise the disruption to traffic as far as possible they have the right to access their services in the highway.
"Our highways engineers have assisted South East Water in reviewing signage and they have arranged for additional diversion signs to be prominently displayed at various intervals ahead of the works area.
"They have also put out extra signs advising that businesses are open as usual while the work is taking place.
"Highways officers have been monitoring the traffic and found that, in the main, most traffic is adhering to the specified diversion route, however they have noted that there are motorists who are using their local knowledge to find other routers. without closing these residential roads, there is little action we can take to prevent this.
"Ahead of South East Water starting their works. we were able to liase with British Telecom and arrange for their work to install new cabling to be undertaken a the same time as this mains replacement work, thus avoiding further disruption at a later date."