Road closures in Barnstaple Town Centre prompt councillors to ponder reopening of The Strand
ROADWORKS in and around Barnstaple town centre have caused long delays for commuters this week.
The road closures on Victoria Road, at the bottom of Newport and in Boutport Street, have seen traffic forced to reroute around town and the closure in one direction of Rolle Street has seen Fair View, Pilton Quay and Pilton Causeway become gridlocked.
Belle Meadow Road and Alexandra Road have also seen far more traffic than is usual as a result of the closures.
The work is all being carried out by Wales and West Utilities, with various work being done on gas mains under the roads.
Victoria Road in Barnstaple closed between Taw Ford Roundabout and the New Road junction because of gas main work.
There have been complaints that not all the work needed to have been done at the same time.
And the increased traffic has led people to wonder whether it has heralded a return to the bad old days of Barnstaple, home of the traffic jam.
Barnstaple town councillor Simon Harvey fears it might.
He says that although the roadworks have accentuated Barnstaple's problems, traffic has been steadily becoming heavier since the Strand and Taw Vale were shut off.
"At the time the Western bypass was built, the county council made changes to the town centre," he said.
"It's quite clear that some of these changes actually had a negative impact on congestion.
"It appeared that because traffic wasn't having to enter Barnstaple these changes were beneficial, but what new roads tend to do is bring in more traffic."
Mr Harvey plans to address the matter tonight at a Barnstaple Town Council meeting, where he will make a proposal that the Strand and Taw Vale be reopened to traffic.
"The outcome should be that traffic on Belle Meadow Road is reduced and people will no longer have to perform U-turns on the Square," he said.
And Mr Harvey will find support in Devon County Councillor Rodney Cann, who chairs the North Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC).
"I have been under pressure from various councillors and members of the public for some time to look into the reopening of the Strand," he said.
"And these recent roadworks seem to have bought matters to a head.
"It does seem odd that you can drive over the longbridge and see this fine road being completely unused."
Mr Cann said the matter will be discussed at the next meeting of HATOC, which is in March.