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Fears congestion around A14 is costing lives

Campaigners are calling on the council to provide a 'simple solution' to chronic congestio..

By admin , in Cambridge , at April 30, 2018

Campaigners are calling on the council to provide a 'simple solution' to chronic congestion around Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

There are regular tailbacks of 45 minutes at peak periods on Hinchingbrooke Park Road which leads to the hospital and onto the A14.

People have also raised concerns about the effect the jams are having on ambulance response times.

Now a petition is calling on Cambridgeshire County Council to acquire a blocked-off link road from Parkway to Kingfisher Way to help improve traffic flow for residents and NHS staff.

The congestion issue is chronic (Picture Keith Cooper).

Lib Dem Huntingdon District Cllr John Morris said: "We are calling on Cambridgeshire County Council to open up the link road on a trial basis to assess the traffic impact.

"Our proposal is that traffic should be one way only, towards the A14.
"It could be limited to say no more than two hours in the morning and perhaps from 4pm to 6pm in the afternoon.

"The new A14 won't open until 2020 so it will be a nightmare for residents until then."

Cllr John Morris (left) with Cllr Tom Sanderson at the barrier to the Kingfisher Way link road, Hinchingbrooke Park Estate

What the council say

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokeswoman said there are no plans to acquirethe closed-off link road.

The authority believes opening the road would add to the congestion problems in nearby residential streets.

A council spokeswoman said: “Cambridgeshire County Council is working closely with Highways England in drawing up details for the planned work on this Huntingdonshire section of the A14.

Hinchbrooke Park Road outside the hospital. Traffic is stationary in both directions and the ambulance is going over the central reservation (picture Graham Smith).

“There are no plans at this time for the County Council to adopt the private access road through the industrial estate as there are concerns that access to the A14 close to Spittals interchange and slip road would increase traffic within local residential streets and require significant engineering changes to the junction.

"We would also require weight restrictions and parking restriction to be imposed to reduce the risk of rat running and to ensure that road safety considerations are carefully managed."

Night time congestion round Hitchingbrooke.

She added that Highways England's modernisation program to improve capacity on the A14 will provide a longer term solution.

She said: “Highways England have plans to build a new link through to the old A14, which will become the local access road, via Views Common which will provide more suitable and safer access for anyone using the route.

“We will continue to monitor the impact of traffic on residential streets and the question of access through Hinchingbrooke once the Views Common link road is provided.”

General view of Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

Congestion around the hospital

Cllr Morris is joined in his campaign by independent Cllr Tom Sanderson and 418 people who have so far signed the petition.

The pair are gravely concerned about the effect congestion is having on traffic to and from the hospital, which includes an A & E and maternity ward.

Cllr Morris believes lives are being put "at risk" on a daily basis because "ambulances are being delayed by gridlock traffic" – something the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) refute.

Resident Keith Cooper claims he has witnessed ambulances struggling to battle through the queues.

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He said: "Access to and from Hinchingbrooke Hospital is severely restricted at times – residents cannot leave their homes without sitting in traffic, and congestion and poor parking has prevented emergency services access.

"It is not uncommon to see ambulances struggling to get out of the hospital in the late afternoon.

"We have a hospital, popular country park, police and fire HQ, lots of housing, a primary school, a major secondary school and are close to the station.

"We have one road out. Its obvious to anyone that this is a potentially dangerous and entirely unsustainable situation."

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What the ambulance service say

Responding to the allegations, an EEAST spokeswoman said an ambulance travelling to an emergency on blue lights can "always safely navigate its way through congestion on the A14".

She said: "We always send the nearest ambulance to an emergency and they will always ensure they travel safely but as quickly as possible to reach a patient.

"More recently, we are more affected by night closures and although we get advance notice, it can sometimes make our routes more difficult.

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"We totally understand the need for better roads in the area and we have plans in place to mitigate disruption during this time. We look forward to benefiting from improved road networks in the future."

She added: "We would like to thank the considerate drivers who enable us to do this. The majority of motorists are very respectful of the blue lights and sirens used by all emergency services and move out of our way."


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