Drivers face up to 25 more weeks of upheaval as a major Bury St Edmunds junction is set to undergo roadworks costing £1 million, while a publican claims he will lose money as a result.
From September 4, Suffolk Highways will start work on the Spread Eagle junction to upgrade the traffic lights, create bus stop bays in Out Westgate and Vinery Road, widen the footpath and install a zebra crossing in Vinery Road and reposition a traffic island in Horringer Road to improve pedestrian crossing facilities.
However, two councillors are not happy with the plans and feel the junction would work better without traffic lights.
Borough and County councillor David Nettleton said: “The traffic lights are the main problem with that junction.
“The history of it goes back to 1996, when they were installed. There was no need for them and the only time it works there is when the lights are not switched on.
“Now they are going back to make the same mistake again. Public money is paying for these changes so they might as well spend it more wisely.”
Borough councillor Paul Hopfensperger agreed, saying: “Traffic lights cause congestion – we want a system where we improve pedestrian safety and ease congestion. Anyone in Bury will tell you that the only time that junction flows well is when the traffic lights are turned off.”
The council says the 20-year-old lights are being replaced with a more modern system.
During the first week of works the central traffic islands in Out Westgate will be removed overnight to allow two lanes of traffic to pass throughout. Then work will start on the junction improvements before new central islands are installed.
These works are due to be completed by February 10, followed by a two-week period when the junction will be resurfaced.
Temporary traffic lights will be in Out Westgate, Horringer Road and Vinery Road throughout, while Petticoat Lane will be closed from the second week. Diversions will be in place, while access for residents and customers of the Spread Eagle will be maintained.
However, customers of the Dove pub, in Hospital Road, will be forced to reach the pub on foot or drive a 2.2-mile diversion via Parkway, Out Risbygate and West Road.
Landlord Roger Waters said he was ‘very unhappy’ about the roadworks and closure of Petticoat Lane, particularly as he only became aware of it at lunchtime on Tuesday.
“Nobody had the courtesy to talk to me as a business to explain how it would affect me,” he said.
“I am worried that despite being open as usual, the pub will make a significant loss as a result of this.”
Mr Waters said he estimated half his customers accessed the pub – which holds the title CAMRA West Suffolk Pub of the Year 2017 – via Petticoat Lane. He called for the road closure to be lifted between the hours of 5pm and 8am to allow customers through as usual.
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said signage would make Dove customers aware of their access options.
Cllr James Finch, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We regret this scheme could take up to 25 weeks, but the team have allowed for the effects of working through the winter months with potential freezing temperatures and shorter daylight hours.”
Work on another major junction – the Parkway roundabout – is due to finish today.