We’ll minimise Lowestoft road chaos pledge made
06:30 08 February 2013
Â© Archant 2012
Senior managers at National Grid pledged this week to do all they could to minimise the disruption caused by the installation of a new gas pipe in Lowestoft, after a wave of complaints from motorists.
Since work started last week on the A12 at Belvedere Road and Pier Terrace, drivers have faced long queues in and around the Bascule Bridge as the roadworks compound rush-hour traffic problems.
National Grid has now promised to do all it can to speed up the work, which is due to last until the end of March.
And Suffolk County Council has vowed to monitor the situation and take action if required.
A National Grid spokesman said: “We knew the congestion this could cause. We have subsequently extended the hours we will be working and on Saturdays if necessary.
“Hopefully we will finish earlier, rather than later. We had said the work will be complete by the end of March, but we hopefully we are going to get it done a lot quicker than that.
“We apologise for the disruption and ask motorists to bear with us.”
Since last Wednesday, the work has led to northbound traffic on Belvedere Road restricted to one lane on the approach to the bridge, while southbound traffic is flowing from one lane off the bridge.
The resulting congestion prompted motorists to take to The Lowestoft Journal’s and EDP’s website and Facebook page, with some complaining that it was taking up two hours to travel from St Peter’s Street to the bridge.
Comments included “What a nightmare”, “an absolute disgrace” and “complete gridlock in the town”.
Last month, National Grid representatives discussed its proposed work and lane restrictions with the police and Suffolk County Council. It says the work cannot be carried out at night as it would impact on people living nearby.
The county council says it was monitoring the problems.
A spokesman said: “Daily site inspections are being carried out and the traffic situation monitored. If there is an opportunity to adapt the traffic management to further reduce congestion while works continue, we will do so.”
The work is being carried out to lay a new steel pipe that will reinforce the underground gas main.
During the work, police are warning motorists to expect delays in the evening as they head home.
Insp Anthony Bridgland said: “We’d ask that motorists bear in mind there may be delays in the centre of the town with a knock-on effect through Oulton Broad... If you can avoid the area at peak times please do so.”
He added: “From a policing perspective, we are deploying officers in both the north and south of the town to ensure our response times are not affected and that we continue to function normally.”
A year ago, drivers in Lowestoft town centre faced major traffic problems when Anglia Water carried out sewer improvement work in Station Square. The work led to some motorists facing a mile-long diversion and big tailbacks at peak times.