Bypass not on the cards for ‘congestion town’ Harpenden

AFFLUENT Harpenden has earned the dubious moniker of “congestion town” after transport chiefs highlighted its traffic-clogged roads in a key transport plan for the town.

It points out that congestion is such that there is a danger of inhibiting access to key services and failing to reduce carbon emissions and maintain residents’ high quality of life.

But despite years of debate, a bypass around the town is unlikely because of its impact on both the environment and local businesses benefiting from passing trade, according to Hertfordshire County Council.


Instead, the council is proposing sweeping measures to improve cycle routes, pedestrian safety, parking and tackling speeding vehicles in a draft document put out for public consultation until December 5 this year.

The proposed Harpenden Urban Transport Plan warns that if left unmanaged, there would be continued traffic congestion and demand for parking in this “busy commuter town,” making access by car to the train station and other local services increasingly difficult.

A suggested Harpenden bypass linking the A1081 to the north of town to the A5183 near Redbourn has been quashed with the document saying: “The route would be of limited use to the network in light of the recent M1 widening works which have increased capacity... In addition, this route would direct traffic into the already constrained city-centre network of St Albans.”

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Following public criticism of the train station’s myriad problems, from a lack of cycle parking to poor access to platforms and car parks full by 8.30am, the council is calling on First Capital Connect to build an additional storey on its car park to the east of the station.

It wants the station forecourt improved along with the creation of a southern access point from Crabtree Lane along Aysgarth Close for pedestrians and cyclists, increased cycle parking areas and provision of taxi ranks on both sides of the track.

The Department for Transport is funding a second footbridge with lifts to platforms to the north end of the station, at a cost of up to �2 million, to improve access for people with mobility impairments and parents with small children, expected to be built next year.

The council also wants traffic lights placed on junctions of Station Road and station access roads to help cut congestion in this area.

Proposed improvements to public transport also extend to the local bus service with access to local hospitals described as poor.

An alternative to providing bus services from the train station forecourt could include having a minibus or larger taxi shuttle to surrounding villages and areas of Harpenden furthest from the station.

This option would cost up to �500,000. The council would also like existing community transport services to hospitals expanded.

The plan calls for extension of the controlled parking zone in Harpenden, and increased use of season tickets at public car parks.

Improvements to the cycle network includes provision of additional cycle parking in Harpenden town centre, alternative routes to Harpenden train station and spending up to �315,000 on cycle lane improvements from Bull Road to Arden Grove.

It also advocates a cycle route from Harpenden town centre running from Church Green, Leyton Road, West Common, over Redbourn Lane, West Common Way, West Common Grove to Collens Road where it meets the A1081 to help cyclists avoid fast and high traffic levels.

20mph zone

Leyton Road is pivotal to the plan, with the council wanting to create a 20mph zone and promoting it as an alternative route for cyclists wanting to avoid the A1081 into the town centre. Other proposals include the permanent closure of the High Street service road between Station Road and Vaughan Road and, the installation of traffic signals at the High Street/Station Road junction, incorporating “an all red phase for pedestrians”. The two existing zebra crossings would be removed.

An exhibition of the proposals is being held at Park Hall on Leyton Road from 9.30am to 3.30pm next Saturday, November 6.