Tempers reach boiling point over city’s sewer works

Emotions are running at an all-time high in Lancaster as drivers struggle to cope with road closures for an £18m sewer repair project.

Thursday, 18th September 2014, 5:10 pm
North Road, Lancaster. Part of one way system closed for final part of £18m United Utilities sewer project work and causing traffic chaos. Taken September 16 2014

United Utilities began the final and most critical stage of the project to replace the city’s crumbling Victorian sewer system on Monday.

But queues stretched from Junction 34 off the M6 through to Lancaster, up to Northgate, Morecambe and through to Heysham with 10- minute journeys taking more than an hour.

Patience reached tipping point as commuters rushed to reach their destinations during rush hour.

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The water company was left under pressure and was forced to implement traffic calming measures to ease congestion. Although 
traffic has now eased to some extent the diversions are causing problems for drivers who are left baffled by the new routes.

On Tuesday, police were called to the closed-off North Road after complaints from traffic wardens.

Eyewitnesses reported a heated dispute and there have been numerous reports of HGVs, vans and cars getting stuck and being forced to reverse and perform three point turns to drive back into busy traffic.

A police spokesman said: “We got a call at 2.30pm on Tuesday, September 16 to North Road, as traffic wardens were complaining about a white van refusing to move off the road.”

United Utilities Project manager Dawn Harrington said: “I would urge everyone to continue to adhere to the traffic management signs and avoid parking on roads that are closed.” The water company stresses that improvements to temporary traffic lights located on Bulk Road have helped calm the situation.

Glen Cooper, Senior Consultant and Copywriter at Fat Media on Spring Garden Street, said morning trains from Morecambe to Lancaster were left rammed as commuters turned to public transport.

He said: “Tuesday night every seat was taken and the entire aisle and both doorways were packed with about 40 to 50 people standing, about half a dozen couldn’t even get on it was so rammed.

Sim Lane-Dixon, Lancashire County Council’s highways manager for Lancaster, said: “This morning (Wednesday) we noticed an improvement in the traffic flow compared to both yesterday and Monday. This is United Utilities’ work, but we will continue to work with them and the police to monitor the situation.

Roads will be closed for approximately two months. The junction where North Road meets the A6 Rosemary Lane is being closed during the project.

Traffic heading into Lancaster from Morecambe and traffic along Caton Road is also being diverted along Bulk Road and St Leonardgate.

Some bus services have been relocated from the bus station to Dalton Square and Common Garden Street along with temporary timetable changes.

Mrs Harrington said: “After the traffic issues on Monday, we’re pleased that the changes we made to the temporary traffic management has had a very positive impact on traffic movement around the city.

“We will of course continue to monitor the situation and will make any necessary changes to avoid the scenes witnessed on Monday.”