Warning over devastating effect of St Albans rail freight depot on roads network

PUBLISHED: 12:01 13 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

A TRAFFIC expert from St Albans has provided evidence of the devastating impact of a rail freight depot on local roads. Enumerator Tony Strange, aged 78, has been surveying Hertfordshire s roads for eight years and said he was shocked by the county coun

A TRAFFIC expert from St Albans has provided evidence of the "devastating" impact of a rail freight depot on local roads.

Enumerator Tony Strange, aged 78, has been surveying Hertfordshire's roads for eight years and said he was shocked by the county council's recent decision not to proceed with highway objections to the building of the depot on the Radlett Airfield site.

Mr Strange, who lives in Windmill Avenue, said: "When I read the Herts Advertiser story about the county council's belief that there are no traffic reasons to oppose the scheme, I couldn't quite believe it. I did a survey of the North Orbital Road close to the railway lines earlier this year and found it to be one the busiest areas in Herts."

The results of Mr Strange's North Orbital Road survey, which was conducted in April on behalf of Capital Highways, show a staggering level of traffic flow with over 2,000 cars travelling west along the road during both the rush hours of 8 and 9am and 5 and 6pm.

Mr Strange, who has lived in St Albans for over 50 years, said he was particularly concerned about the number of lorries that passed through the area: "There were several hourly periods when we counted well over 100 Artic 5 and 6 lorries - the biggest lorries you can get - travelling west on the North Orbital Road. Surely they can't all be diverted through Park Street if and when the freight comes?"

The county council as highways authority announced last month that as there had been no material change in circumstances since the first public inquiry, it could not justify making fresh highway objections to the Helislough scheme for Radlett Airfield.

As a result the district council, which is strongly opposed to the rail freight proposal, has been forced to remove highway grounds from its objections to the scheme which go to a second public inquiry on November 24.

Mr Strange said that he hoped the county council would take note of the survey: "In my informed opinion, the impact of a rail freight terminal on traffic flow in Park Street would be tremendous. In theory the council should have already seen my survey, as they all go through to the Ministry of Transport. Perhaps they have chosen to conveniently ignore it?"

But Executive Member for Highways and Transport Cllr Stuart Pile said last week that although the county council could not justifying lodging an objection on highways grounds for legal reasons, it did not in any way support the Helioslough scheme.

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