Councillor critic of roundabout roadworks in Newport

A COUNCILLOR has raised concerns about the continuing, controversial, roadworks to turn St Mary’s Roundabout into a junction, as a one-way system is put back in place for up to 11 weeks.

A Similar scheme was put in place for a time last year with Forest Road being made one way and big diversions through Newport and Carisbrooke.

Residents of Hunnyhill and Camp Hill reported problems of traffic avoiding signed diversions and using private, unadopted roads to cut past roadworks.

In Hunnyhill, motorists have continued to try and find a way through since the one-way system was installed this morning (Monday) — something Cllr Andrew Garratt, ward representative for the Isle of Wight Council, had hoped would not be repeated.

He said: “Part of the problem is down to the signage that was put at the top of Hunnyhill last time and I am hoping Island Roads will have learnt it needs to be very clear in redirecting traffic, which won’t be able to go westbound.”

However, one resident has already reported seeing six cars try to cut through Worsley Road and had to turn around, as it is a dead-end, one backing into a fence.

Cllr Garratt said: “I suspect this is because some drivers are not seeing the diversion sign ahead of the closure to send them down Hunnyhill and are, instead, heading down Whitesmith Road.”

Last year, Cllr Garratt and residents campaigned for more signage and are now doing so again to avoid these situations — but he said: “I had a little bit of trouble trying persuading them that some extra signage could do a good job here.”

He warned the extra traffic could be a hazard as young children liked playing in the street.

Other issues raised include traffic diverting through the unadopted, private roads of Camp Hill.

Cllr Garratt said: “Given it is a quiet area, and you do get a lot of traffic diverting through there as we saw last autumn, I am hoping people will be sensible, as most did, taking it slowly through there. But it is difficult for the residents to have this extra traffic in their quiet roads.”

As lockdown restrictions are lifted in the next couple of weeks, Peter Hayward, IW Council project manager of the St Mary’s roundabout scheme, said they were preparing for a slight increase in traffic as they try to avoid problems but people using the diversion or looking for a cut-through that doesn’t exist ‘shouldn’t be an issue’.

“We cannot block [the roads] off,” he said. “It doesn’t work like that.

“We have said the only way we can manage [the traffic] is to put the one-way system on a little bit earlier. The only issue is the one-way system may be on for a couple of weeks more than we wanted it too but that is necessary to stop the queues coming back on the roundabout.”

The 11 week one-way system will initially be eastbound from today (June 8) until late August.

Explaining the situation, Mr Hayward said ideally Southern Water would have finished their work two weeks ago but due to the current pandemic, manufacturers of a part needed by the water company have not been able to create the piece and until then Island Roads could not continue their work.

Mr Hayward said: “The part will allow them to tap into the pipes and bypass the water without cutting the water off. We haven’t been able to progress because there is still an open hole where the connection needs to be made — we cannot resurface it.

“It was always planned to put the one way on now but we were going to start our works immediately instead of putting it on now and letting Southern Water finish.”

Mr Hayward also said the ultimate completion date for the scheme, mid-December, has not been affected as different parts of the scheme are just being completed in a different order.

However, Cllr Garratt hopes Island Roads will be pro-active in monitoring the situation if adjustments are needed and that the 11 weeks could be a worst-case scenario.

“If there is any way where it emerges we could return to a two-way traffic light situation, allowing the flow in both directions, that would be great although I understand it may not be physically possible along with the traffic management and we just have to hope people can negotiate there way around Newport without becoming too frustrated.”

The St Mary’s scheme is coming into the final six months of construction after it was started at the end of September 2019 as a way of reducing congestion and ‘future-proofing’ the junction for the Island.