Roundabout thoughts

How much does a major redevelopment of an existing roundabout cost? And how long will it take? Read on for answers. The roundabout in question, in this question anyway, is at Chowns Mill where the A6 crosses the A45 (and there is a fifth road which is the road into Higham Ferrers which is the old A6 before the Higham Ferrers/Rushden bypass was built).

I’ve been into London twice this week, and am heading that way again on Monday. To get to Wellingborough railway station there are essentially four routes that I can take to cover the 9.4 mile journey. The trouble is, and has been for a while, that I have to get to the other side of the railway line to catch a train. Why is that a problem? Because the railway line is being electrified and that requires putting in infrastructure along the railway line. And why is that a problem? Because when the railway was built nobody, understandably, built the road bridges with the thought that in a hundred years’ time or so there might have to be some more kit fitted into the system. So road bridges are being raised and adjusted, and some structural faults have, I gather, been found with some of the bridges. All this requires engineering work which leads to bridge closure, demolition in one case and single-line traffic on busy dual carriageways with speed restrictions thrown in too. So those 9.4 miles which might reasonably be expected to take 15-20 minutes can, sometimes, but unpredictably, take 40 minutes or sometimes more (but often less).

I’ve only missed one (already paid for and non-refundable) train over the last year or so because of this but it has increased my journey times, fuel costs, stress levels and temporary irritation. However, this is all an unavoidable consequence of an old infrastructure of roads and railways that weren’t built for today’s traffic levels or vehicle sizes. It has to be fixed and we current residents of the area have to put up with the inconvenience and hope that we shall share the benefits later on.

A new shopping complext at Rushden Lakes, with a narrow entrance and exit has added another twist to the traffic jams, and the building of an exit from that shopping complex has closed another road which might have alleviated the railbridge-related traffic slowness too. Again, it is to be hoped that this extra short road will make things better in the ‘end’ but it has short-term costs to the traveller.

On top of this, there is the planned redevelopment of the Chowns Mill roundabout which is starting soon. So how much does a roundabout redevelopment cost? Obviously it depends what you are doing but this one is going to cost £21m and take 22 months.

You can imagine how greatly I am looking forward to the 22 months of work (22 months!). I feel lucky to be alive at this time when my 9.4 mile fairly regular journey to the local railway station has had work on its bridge over the railway and single file traffic at reduced speeds, a new shopping centre and a roundabout development included in the journey.

There are houses going up everywhere which will probably mean more cars on the same roads.

One ray of hope, the BTO might call it a brave new world, I’ll call it a faint glimmer, is that there may be new access to the station from the east which might reduce my journey to 6 miles, but I wonder whether that will result in a quicker journey – I’ll be interested to see.

These are basically improvements, so I regard the inconvenience as just one of those things, although I regard it less so in that way when I am stuck in a traffic jam with a train to catch than I do now sitting at a keyboard going nowhere.

But a remarkable thing happened at Wellingborough Station on one morning this week. It wasn’t the sighting of the vicar of Finedon, the former Communard Rev Richard Coles, who is a frequent spot at the station, but two much rarer, at the time unprecedented avian records.

Well, when I say unprecedented, I mean, of course, unprecedented for me from the platforms of Wellingborough Station. And they were both white and in flight, and in view simultaneously; Mute Swan and Little Egret. The excitment of the occasional trip to London, eh?


18 Replies to “Roundabout thoughts”

  1. Cycling to the station might be the answer? 9.4 miles isn’t very far, reduced carbon emissions and positive health benefits!

    1. Nine and a half miles is for hardcore cyclists only. Half a mile, tops, is about right for normal people. And even then only in good weather, no rain nor wind, and not too warm either. Nobody wants to arrive all sweaty, which means it has to be on the dead flat. So, basically, East Anglia only.

      And keep left, and don’t obstruct other traffic.

  2. 9.4 miles is cyclable, and think of the benefits from the exercise! You’d not really be held up then perhaps? Whether you’d survive the traffic on route though, and it would be tough no doubt with the weather. Rollerblades?

    1. Whilst I agree that it IS a cyclable distance, and a distance I use to do one-way to my job for 10 years at the local wildlife trust, as a regular cycling commuter some of the worst trips are having to cycle on a road with trundling traffic – it stinks, gives you a headache, makes you cough and, if there is no cycle lane you have to concentrate so hard picking your way through any potential space (cycling inside cars if no cycle lane is technically not legal – I do it all the time on Cambridge roads without cycle lanes….). Plus there are the extra outer layers, lights etc. you will have to carry, somwhere secure to lock the bike…….OK, 9.4 miles IS about 45 minutes, butit really depends on the route as to whetehr it is a pleasant alternative. Rural, unlit roads are lethal if motorists are not used to thinking cycle, and waiting at lights withthe traffic has to be done, too……..
      Cambridge is like this all the time. At present, we have the city ringroad closed at a major roundabout whic is takign 6 months to rebuild as a Dutch-style, cycle-priority one. It is chaos whilst shut, and I reckon it will be more chaos when reopened. Last week I cycled through the city on an errand and the level of ability and lightign from most cyclists was shocking, and the behaviour of most of the mototrists equally bad. Every morning I chose between the first mile of my cycle commute being down the white line in the middle of the road or on the broken-tarmac crevasses which were once the village pavement… neither where I should be cycling. The traffic trundles past our house, 4 1/2 mile sout of othe city, for 1 1/2 hours every day from 7.15am… where I work is the bottleneck in the northwest of the city, with some poorly-designed lanes and traffic lights for new settlement, motorway, park and ride and large university/research park access roads………

      1. I know, terrible isn’t it. There’s nearly always a reason not to change behaviour.

        I commuted on my bike 100 miles a week for 15 years, mind I live in Scotland where as you may or may not know, there is little or no traffic, just the odd icy day and the risk of a runaway haggis taking you out on a quiet road.

        Have a look at this for inspiration…

        1. I too commute by bike every day – currently 8 miles a day, was double that for a decade…. through the bustlign Cambridge traffic.. I prefer a long cycle on uncrowded roads, such as I experience when up in Scotland our out for a ride away from the city.

  3. What I’d suggest we should be lobbying for is that for every hectare of greenfield released for development the developer should have to bring 5-10 hectares in the same, if not, immediate area, for green space, woodland, wetland, permanent accessible grassland, scrub, whatever. The planning system is a Government-owned rationing system which has turned into a complete racket, like everything today more a financial instrument than about people’s homes. In your sort of area most sales for housing will be only part of the total holding and is it the end of the world if the effective land value drops from an eyewatering £1,000,000 per hectare to a still lottery-winning £100,000 ?

  4. This is the sort of crapola that makes me try to avoid travel altogether & only do so if people are in danger of dying but then they don’t just to make me do it all over again but I do get to see the beautiful picturesk Nene valley while I’m queueing through it.

    For the duration of this torture you could trade off distance for reliable arrival and go to Kettering, Huntingdon or St Neots instead.

    Someone should tel the numpties who are moving a helicopter across Wiltshire by road today that helicopters were invented so that you don’t have to use the A303

  5. Whatever the estimated time for the roadworks, add a third. Luckily for me, I changed jobs at the time of a major redevelopment of the roundabout on the Oxford ring road near us and could take another route. Sadly, other people who also found alternative routes along our village streets haven’t forgotten them since.

  6. I take Louise’s points but if there’s any flexibility about when you travel, it *is* possible for people on bikes (let’s get away from ‘cyclists’ and ‘motorists’ – after all, we are all people, right?!) to avoid some of the worst issues. I’m planning to pedal to Higham Ferrers on Sunday, from Thetford. I’ll wave if I see you, Mark!

  7. I’ve just been round that roundabout a few times as I’ve been visiting my sister in Higham Ferrers (still got its excellent bakery by the way ,I can’t resist a pineapple tart) and an old mate in Great Addington.
    If you hit the wrong time of day then you can sit there for some time before you can get across it. What are they going to do to improve it ,a flyover?? As one road works finishes another one starts.
    I think cycling would be fairly/very dangerous considering the traffic.
    There seems to be a lot of housebuilding going on around Ditchford (what do the people do for a living now the shoe factories have all but shut)and the Rushden Lakes probably hasn’t helped . Funny how all the town centres are dying.
    No foam and stink on the rivers now but the pond where I used to catch Great Crested Newts as a kid at the bottom of Nest Lane is now an Industrial estate.

  8. One advantage for Mark in cycling is that part of the route would be off road through Stanwick Lakes.

  9. It would seem that many of your friends are keen to see you don the Lycra! I suspect you may have other thoughts on this!

    1. Sandra – I do actually. I’m surprised that there has been no mention of why I don’t get the bus to the station (but the answer is that it takes an hour plus the 20 minute walk to the station from central Wellingborough).

  10. Presumably, if the traffic is nearly stationary, cycling would be a lot safer, apart from the pollution you’d be breathing. The other problems remain however!

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