Town’s heading for roadworks gridlock
DRIVERS could be facing further congestion and gridlock around Stratford as more than a dozen roadwork schemes are scheduled for the streets in and around the town.
The Herald has counted more than 14 schemes that are due to take place over the next few weeks and months – a total that excludes lots of smaller projects that are predicted to have no impact on traffic flows.
One project, major work on Evesham Road, will stretch into spring 2023 as a new roundabout is built to provide access to the Stratford Western Road and the Bloor Homes development on the edge of Shottery.
In addition to the current Wood Street pavement replacement work, which continues until the end of March, work is also scheduled to start soon at Clopton Bridge, reconfiguring the junction of Bridgefoot and Tiddington Road. This is scheduled to take place through to the end of July.
Campden Road will also see roadworks until the 29th April as a new entrance to Stratford Garden Centre is built, and works on Birmingham Road, Church Street and Shipston Road are expected in March, April and May.
The level of roadworks has left some concerned about the impact on congestion and the town’s ability to attract people into the centre to support businesses.
Stratford delivery driver James Smith said: “I think it will cause absolute chaos. Stratford is not brilliant at the best of times when it gets into its busy periods. Birmingham Road is often gridlocked, so once you get these other works on top of it, it’s going to make getting in and out of Stratford hell on earth, to be honest.
“I live locally and drive as well, so I know some back routes where I can avoid the main areas, but most people don’t, and they’re going to have to get used to sitting in their car for a long time.
“The town centre, I would say, has suffered enough from road closures and the markets and god knows what else. I don’t think businesses will be welcoming them.”
Another Stratford resident, Brian Lythall, described the Clopton Bridge works as “a vanity project which will cause total chaos”. He added: “With all these roadworks going on, all the planners and councillors have to do is find something to fix on the Warwick Road and they will have achieved the incredible: blocked every single major route into this once great town.”
The effects of the existing roadworks in Wood Street are already noticeable in the town, according to taxi driver Kevin Jones, who believes visitor numbers are suffering.
“I’ve seen a lot less tourists, and the number of people walking around the town seems to have really depreciated,” he said. “Normally there are loads of people, but now every day is like a Sunday afternoon. There’s only a few people around the town now with less tourists and less visitors.
“We had a really quiet December because of Omicron. What was meant to be the busiest time of the year was actually very quiet. Omicron eased off, January came and it picked up a little bit. Then as soon as all these roadworks started it dropped again.”
The impact is also being felt by Johnsons Coaches which is having to reroute some of its bus services.
A spokesperson said: “We are continuing to run services as close to the schedule as possible and will be diverting most services that would normally go over the bridge down Seven Meadows Road. We are anticipating delays to services, and this will affect passengers waiting in and around Stratford.
“With the closure already in place for Wood Street, this is already having a knock-on effect on services and whilst we are still able to get around Stratford, once the other closures come into force this will effectively cut Stratford off until the summer period.
“Whilst we understand that the works need to be done to preserve the rich history that Stratford has, and will aid in attracting more tourism to the area, this will have a negative impact on bus services.”
Startforward manager Diane Mansell was pragmatic about the level of work, acknowledging that there’s a backlog of maintenance that needs to be sorted.
“Obviously a lot of our member businesses have suffered dreadfully over the last two years because of the pandemic, with many being forced to shut for months on end,” Diane said. “Just when they thought there was light at the end of the tunnel, Omicron struck and a much-needed pre-Christmas boost was lost, only prolonging the agony. Plus we are now in the depths of winter, which is always a difficult time for a town like Stratford, which is heavily reliant on visitors.
“As we come out of this difficult time it is important that the town centre is given a chance to recover, and footfall will be key to this. At the same time we must appreciate there is a huge backlog of work needed to be done to ensure the long-term sustainability of the town.”
In a further update, Cllr Kate Rolfe shared on social media yesterday, Wednesday, afternoon: “I have just been informed that the highways works due to take place on Knights Lane in Tiddington at the end of this month will now no longer happen at that time and will be postponed until the summer. This is due mainly to legal agreements not being in place in time. I have asked that the bulk of the work takes place during the summer holidays to have as little impact as possible. I suppose there is a positive – these works will not clash with the traffic lights works around Alveston Manor and the current works on Wood Street.”
Warwickshire County Council told the Herald: “With regard to the timings of these works they have been co-ordinated to ensure minimal disruption to drivers in Stratford, all visitors and residents. For example, the Wood Street footway improvements will be complete before the Clopton Bridge scheme commences. The start date of the 21st February for Clopton Bridge, the Taylor Wimpey-led scheme is now very unlikely to be met.”
They added: “The Evesham Road roundabout works will now be commencing as the Alcester Road highways works for the ring road have been completed.”