Ma­jor junc­tions set to be up­graded at a cost of £3.5m

Hinckley Times - - NEWS -

MO­TORISTS face a year of de­lays as around £3.5m is spent to speed up traf­fic at one of Hinck­ley’s no­to­ri­ous con­ges­tion hot spots.

Lucy Lynch looks into ef­forts to get traf­fic mov­ing in and out of Hinck­ley along Rugby Road with its junc­tions on Haw­ley Road (out­side the Hub) and Brook­side.

In the nine­teenth cen­tury the route was a turn­pike road to Rugby Bridge and prob­a­bly the big­gest gripe was the tolls the own­ers of the road charged ev­ery trav­eller.

But in the twen­ti­eth cen­tury the gripe is un­doubt­edly traf­fic jams. Rugby Road came third in a Le­ices­ter Mer­cury on­line poll to find the five worst places for traf­fic jams in Le­ices­ter­shire.

The most con­gested sec­tion of the road is be­tween its junc­tion with Brook­side and its junc­tion with Haw­ley Road, site of the coun­cil of­fice the Hinck­ley Hub.

Traf­fic lights at both junc­tions slow ve­hi­cles. There is a bot­tle­neck be­tween the two junc­tions un­der the rail­way bridge where the road drops from two to one lanes head­ing into town and an­other bot­tle­neck head­ing at Brook­side when only one lane is avail­able for ve­hi­cles go­ing straight on.

At rush hour the con­ges­tion can add 10 to 15 min­utes on to a jour­ney. When ac­ci­dents on the A5 mean traf­fic is di­verted through Hinck­ley the de­lays can be much longer.

Di­rec­tor of the Hinck­ley Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict Steve Wegerif, rep­re­sent­ing busi­nesses in Hinck­ley town cen­tre, summed up the need to tackle the con­ges­tion when he said: “We are de­lighted that the reg­u­lar grid­locks at the Haw­ley Road/Rugby Road junc­tion should be eased by the pro­posed Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments. We have not yet seen any fine de­tail as the fund­ing has only just been ap­proved and ob­vi­ously, con­sul­ta­tions will now be­gin.

“Ob­vi­ously LCC High­ways are aware of the sta­tis­tics which show that more and more peo­ple are choos­ing to live within town cen­tres and Hinck­ley is no ex­cep­tion as all the new hous­ing on Haw­ley Road, and ad­di­tional apart­ments in the town cen­tre it­self, tes­tify. It is vi­tal that ac­cess routes into and out of Hinck­ley are kept as trou­ble-free as pos­si­ble, not only to sup­port the de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles that keep our town cen­tre re­tail­ers sup­plied with their stock but equally im­por­tantly, to en­cour­age vis­i­tors and shop­pers to come into Hinck­ley to en­sure we re­tain our ex­ten­sive choice of shops and ser­vices.”

So what will Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil staff do to the junc­tion with Rugby Road and Haw­ley Road?

They are set to spend around £3.5m.

There will be ex­tra lanes for traf­fic on Haw­ley Road and West­field Road.

Turn­ing left out of West­field Road will be banned. A pedes­trian cross­ing will be in­stalled on the south side (the rail­way bridge side) of the junc­tion on Rugby Road. There is none at the mo­ment. The traf­fic light tim­ings will be changed. Turn­ing right from Rugby Road north­bound (head­ing to­wards town) into West­field will also be banned.

What about the junc­tion with Rugby Road and Brook­side?

The junc­tion will be widened on the Rugby Road south­bound exit to cre­ate a two into one merge lane. This means traf­fic will be able to use both of the ex­ist­ing lanes to head south­bound (to­wards the M69) where cur­rently only the right hand lane is for the cars go­ing straight on. A Tou­can pedes­trian cross­ing will be in­stalled across Brook­side for those us­ing the pave­ment and cy­cle path that run along­side Rugby Road.

Will they bring back the traf­fic is­land?

The an­swer from Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil is no. Cllr Blake Pain, (Con, Brunt­ingth­orpe) cab­i­net mem­ber for en­vi­ron­ment and trans­port, said: “A va­ri­ety of op­tions were con­sid­ered and tested, in­clud­ing tak­ing into ac­count fu­ture pre­dicted lev­els of traf­fic. These op­tions in­cluded re­vert­ing back to a round­about, and also the pro­vi­sion of a larger, sig­nalised round­about. Over­all, it was found that the pro­posed scheme, which in­cludes im­prove­ments to the ex­ist­ing sig­nals, of­fered the great­est ben­e­fits in terms of re­duc­ing de­lay and jour­ney times.”

The traf­fic is­land was re­placed with traf­fic lights in 2013 when the Hinck­ley Hub was built. Some Hinck­ley Times read­ers are call­ing for the re­turn of the traf­fic is­land. It is a pop­u­lar op­tion and likely to be suggested by the pub­lic at the con­sul­ta­tion.

Ka­t­rina Dix, who reg­u­larly uses the junc­tion, said: “Round­about all the way. One night few weeks back all the lights were out, and the traf­fic flowed great even though peo­ple had no round­about to go round there was no queue in any di­rec­tion this was about 5.45pm - 6pm too.”

But other read­ers point out that while the traf­fic is­land was quick for traf­fic trav­el­ling from the M69 to the town cen­tre and back it could be slow in other di­rec­tions. Peo­ple re­mem­ber how dif­fi­cult the traf­fic is­land was to ne­go­ti­ate on foot, es­pe­cially with a pushchair. And some point out traf­fic is­lands work best when traf­fic is light. Time­line 2006 Clo­sure of the Flude hosiery fac­tory which oc­cu­pied the site be­fore the Hinck­ley Hub was opened.

2013 The Hinck­ley Hub opens pro­vid­ing a base for Job Cen­tre Plus staff, Hinck­ley and Bosworth Bor­ough Coun­cil staff and Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil staff. The round­about at the junc­tion of Haw­ley Road and Rugby Road is re­placed by traf­fic lights.

2017 Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil an­nounces £3.5 mil­lion for junc­tion im­prove­ments

2018 Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil an­nounces plans in early 2019 for a con­sul­ta­tion on the road­works

2019 Work due to start in May after a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion

2020 Work due to fin­ish in the sum­mer

The Flude site which be­came home to Hinck­ley and Bosworth Bor­ough Coun­cil in 2013. Photo by Becky Lee.

Rugby Road, Haw­ley Road junc­tion in Hinck­ley taken from Google Street View in 2009 be­fore the round­about was re­moved

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