Autumn of traffic chaos predicted if St Albans road closure goes ahead

HCC has proposed a diagonal road closure at the junction of Keyfield Terrace and Old London Road.

HCC has proposed a diagonal road closure at the junction of Keyfield Terrace, Old London Road, Sopwell Lane, and Cottonmill Crescent. - Credit: Matt Adams

Travel across parts of St Albans could be drastically curtailed by major road closures proposed for the autumn.

County Hall has announced plans to close Old London Road at Keyfield Terrace for three weeks, preventing east-west travel, to assess the benefits for walking and cycling as part of the Active Travel Fund.

It means motorists will no longer be able to travel from Belmont Hill, Sopwell Lane and Holywell Hill to Cottonmill Lane, Watson’s Walk, London Road and Old London Road.

But is feared the proposed closure will cause traffic chaos, turn Belmont Hill and Sopwell Lane into dead-ends, force traffic into the already over-congested Peahen junction and force motorists to travel miles out of their way to navigate the scheme, with resulting gridlock on Prospect Road.

And if approved it will result in a 100 yards cycle path in a narrow stretch of Old London Road already packed with residents' cars and speed bumps.

Consultation on the proposals has been extended from the start of August until the beginning of September, shifting the closure into the start of the autumn term, when it is likely to have a bigger impact than if it had been during the summer.

A resident of Bardwell Road told the Herts Ad: "This road closure will bisect Sopwell like the Berlin Wall and create just as much disruption."

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The trial is expected to coincide with the temporary closure of George Street and High Street as part of a different scheme.

County councillor Sandy Walkington responded to the proposals: "This scheme has been devised by county council officers working for the administration at County Hall. We all want to encourage more walking and cycling but I have expressed my alarm at the proposed closure of Old London Road at Keyfield Terrace, even as a trial.

"It seems particularly strange when we are simultaneously carrying out the city centre closure trials. I hope the road closure aspect of the scheme can be headed off at the gulch. We are encouraging all residents to be robust in their comments."

And fellow councillor Chris White added: "There are some significant problems with the ideas put forward and it is essential that there is proper engagement with local people so that any scheme has broad consensus. We are currently a long way from that point."

HCC consulted on proposals for a new cycle route through central St Albans last summer, and one of the proposals was for a diagonal road closure at the junction of Keyfield Terrace, Old London Road, Sopwell Lane, and Cottonmill Crescent, which, as well as providing more space for dedicated cycling infrastructure, would help reduce the number of vehicles using these roads as rat runs, and create a more welcoming environment for people to walk and cycle through.

A spokesperson said: "To better understand the impact it may have on access, parking and traffic flow in the surrounding area, we are planning to trial the closure for three weeks first. To do this, we require an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) and we are currently welcoming feedback on the introduction of the ETRO and proposed trial closure."

Comments on the scheme should be sent to ATFConsultation@hertfordshire.gov.uk before Friday September 9. Comments received will feed into the decision making process on whether or not to proceed with the ETRO and three-week trial closure.