Motorists face detours after busy Stowmarket route shut for repairs

Ageing gas mains which were laid before the onset of World War Two are being replaced in Combs Lane, Stowmarket.
Picture Mark Westley
Ageing gas mains which were laid before the onset of World War Two are being replaced in Combs Lane, Stowmarket. Picture Mark Westley
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Motorists are facing long detours as a result of the closure of a well-used route in and out of Stowmarket.

Combs Lane will be closed until mid-January 2018 so ageing gas mains, which were laid before the onset of World War Two, can be replaced.

Ageing gas mains which were laid before the onset of World War Two are being replaced in Combs Lane, Stowmarket.
Picture Mark Westley

Ageing gas mains which were laid before the onset of World War Two are being replaced in Combs Lane, Stowmarket. Picture Mark Westley

But the closure has met mixed views, according to Stowmarket town councillor and Combs Lane resident Nick Gowrley.

“Overall, this road closure is causing quite a few problems for people,” he said. “If you need to get from one side of the town to another, or if you want to drive to Great Finborough for example, then you need to go all around town to get there.

“But it is quite funny in some ways, because I have had some residents say they love it because the road is now so quiet. It had become quite a rat run. Because of all the other roadworks that were taking place in Stowmarket, people had been using Combs Lane as a diversion route.”

Mr Gowrley said he was in the process of getting more details about the closure, because he did not feel residents and businesses had been kept informed or the works well publicised.

“It is the access which has been cut off that is the problem,” he said. “To go to Finborough, or Hitcham, or Bildeston, then Combs Lane is the way to go. If you want to go into the town from one of those villages, that is the route to use, or if you want to go to Onehouse, or Woolpit – it does affect a lot more people than just those who live in Combs Lane itself. And it set to be closed for quite a long time.”

The closure is expected to be in place until January 19, with access for residents maintained throughout and diversions for motorists put in place.

The closure is to allow for the installation of more than 1.4km of new gas mains to replace those which have been in service since January 1939. The old mains are also being decommissioned by engineers as part of the project.

Vince Doggett, authorising engineer for Cadent, which is carrying out the works, said: “These gas mains have been in service since before World War Two and we must replace them now.

“The world was a very different place in 1939 when the mains went into service and now there is much more traffic on the road. However, we’ve carefully designed the project to ensure we deliver it as efficiently as possible.”

Cadent says that where possible it inserts new gas mains into existing ones, reducing the need to dig large excavations, however insertion is not possible in Combs Lane due to the size of the gas mains being replaced.

“The end result of this project will be safe and reliable gas mains for cooking and heating,” added Mr Doggett.

Gas service pipes to some properties will also be replaced, with temporary supply disconnections as a result.

Residents should always ask to see official identification before letting engineers into their property – to verify an engineer’s identity call 0800 0965678.