Plans scrapped to reroute St Albans School buses
PUBLISHED: 06:37 23 January 2014
Controversial plans to effectively turn a St Albans graveyard in the city’s Cathedral quarter into a traffic island have been scrapped, to the relief of residents battling the blight of school buses.
St Albans district council has abandoned its push to re-route traffic around Romeland gardens to allow coaches to drop off and collect pupils outside the main entrance of St Albans School, near the Abbey Gateway.
Councillors ditched the project after a safety audit warned changes would cause traffic chaos and risked injuries to pupils and pedestrians.
The decision has been hailed as a partial victory for neighbouring residents fed up with the school’s buses.
But they have vowed to continue fighting to remove the daily “convoy” of coaches along historic Fishpool Street.
To accommodate bus transportation of pupils to the school, the council had proposed allowing buses to manoeuvre completely around the graveyard.
Buses at present drop off and collect 530 pupils on Romeland Hill and continue down Fishpool Street.
Romeland – currently one-way – was to become a two-way road, to clear the way for buses to stop outside the school before exiting up George Street.
But that scheme was scrapped after a safety audit by Herts county council as the highways authority raised nine areas of concern including risk of injury to pupils on the top floor of double decker buses travelling around the graveyard, from low-hanging branches on the edge of the site.
The county council warned that having school coaches exit up George Street increased risk of collision between vehicles and pedestrians.
And large vehicles waiting to turn from George Street onto its junction with Verulam Road would block access for vehicles turning in and “could increase the risk of rear-end shunts”.
The idea was further nailed on the head with the report saying that Romeland was not wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic.
As a result, councillors decided to retain the existing route via Fishpool Street for school buses and continue discussions with the school on possible solutions.
With a new headmaster due to start there in September, councillors hoped this would provide an “an opportunity to re-engage with the school”.
The current head, Andrew Grant, has rejected calls for pupils to be transported to other locations and walk to school.
John Hedges, of the Abbey Precincts Residents Association, said locals welcomed the scrapping of traffic flow changes, “but we still have the problem of getting the coaches out of our medieval streets”.
Marketing manager Sarah Yeatman echoed his concern, saying her parked car was written off after she saw a school bus collide with it on Fishpool Street. She said: “There are always buses getting stuck there because they can’t get past parked cars. When that happens, the drivers have to get out, find which resident owns the car and ask them to move it, because they are up against their car, and get stuck.
“There must be a better bus route.”