Protest group reunites over St Albans traffic plans

St Albans residents fight traffic congestion plans

A RESIDENTS’ group which has been resurrected in St Albans to fight the latest bid to restrict cars on St Peter’s Street says the project is “woolly” and pointless and will displace traffic on to neighbouring streets.

Andy Saunders, spokesman for the Carlisle and Waverley Area Residents’ Association (CWARA), said local people were very concerned about efforts to tackle congestion in the city centre just two decades after the disastrous, unpopular one-way system being dropped.

Network St Albans Partnership is targeting traffic congestion, air and noise pollution in the city through various initiatives and is currently examining re-prioritisation of traffic in St Peter’s Street, a proposal it has been discussing with St Albans district council (SADC).

The partnership includes representatives from SADC and Hertfordshire county council, bus and rail operators and the University of Hertfordshire.

It suggested removing cars from part of the busy thoroughfare at certain times. Herts Highways has carried out traffic modelling to ascertain effects on neighbouring roads, the results of which have not yet been made public.

Andy said: “We are going to be the recipients of the displaced traffic onto our residential streets. We are very concerned about our quality of life, and there is a safety issue.”

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He said that accident levels increased dramatically when St Peter’s Street was turned into a “disastrous” one-way system about 20 years ago: “Motorists were often forced to abandon their cars because of the congestion and we had motorcycles using the footpaths.”

Following discussion with county councillor for St Albans Central, Chris White, about Herts Highways’ traffic modelling exercise, CWARA discovered that it had only assessed a few routes through town and had not considered Carlisle Avenue and Waverley Road, both of which are used as rat runs.

Fearing that more cars will use their local streets if barred from the city centre, the residents’ group has conducted its own traffic survey which found that 2,000 vehicles use Carlisle Ave and Waverley Road, along with 900 bicycles and pedestrians between 7am and 7pm.

Andy said that during morning rush hour, the peak flow was about five times the number of off-peak traffic movements.

Another member of the group, Winifred Paton, said: “We fear we’ll get something silly done to St Albans and we are concerned about the proposals.”

SADC executive leader, Cllr Julian Daly, acknowledged residents’ agitation over the issue, and said there had been a luke-warm response from some city centre retailers to proposed changes.

He added: “I am waiting to see the result of the modelling exercises. We are trying to get to the bottom of this. We want to resolve this sooner rather than later.”