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Roadworks hell for Bury St Edmunds drivers

A series of major roadworks have brought Bury St Edmunds to a standstill this week.

Motorists have been left frustrated after Eastgate Street was closed for two weeks from Monday, four-way traffic lights were installed in Tayfen Road with no warning and one lane of Compiegne Way was closed – at the same time schools returned after the summer.

Long queues have built up on the main routes, with Compiegne Way and the Northgate area, Hollow Road and the A14 – which was at a standstill on Wednesday – badly affected.

Tayfen Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Tayfen Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

Taxi driver Paul Saunders, of Chevington, said the works scaled ‘new heights of lunacy’.

“When the schedule was agreed by Suffolk County Council, did they all fall asleep leaving the tea person to tick the box?

“How can people supposedly trusted to make decisions about our welfare be so out of touch?

Gridlock in Symonds Road, Bury St Edmunds (16177340)
Gridlock in Symonds Road, Bury St Edmunds (16177340)

“The disruption so far has been massive.”

He said in his job he saw the reality of the situation rather than ‘massaged statistics’.

“Trade in Bury is dropping through the floor. The market is in crisis through lack of tourist trade and the taxi trade is experiencing its lowest volume of work ever,” he said.

“Take it from one who spends all day, every day in Bury: the town is dying. No one comes here any more. We hear the same thing over and over: ‘Why would I go to Bury? You can’t get in for the traffic and roadworks and then you can’t park’.”

Roadworks. Picture: Mark Westley
Roadworks. Picture: Mark Westley

The works have also had an impact on Meals on Wheels and public transport.

Tess Aristodemou, chief executive of Aspect Living Foundation, which runs Meals on Wheels, said: “We have some people who have diabetes, for example, who need to have their meals at certain times and our drivers are being delayed.

“It is a nightmare.”

Traffic problems in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley
Traffic problems in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Westley

Meanwhile, Mulleys Coaches said the roadworks and closures had caused ‘a huge impact’ on timetables and schedules.

Director Jayne Munson said: “The increase in pollution caused by large numbers of vehicles sitting in queues with engines idling is most concerning.

“These necessary works should be carried out overnight to minimise disruption and reduce the time taken to complete. To undertake such works at the start of a school year is inconceivable.”

Drivers who faced delays included Craig Gausden, who said: “Highways are idiots to think this was a good idea.”

Sabrina Ranson said her sons were late for their first day at a new school as a result.

“They caught the bus from Moreton Hall at 8.06am. The bus had only got as far as the rugby club at 8.40am. Not impressed,” said Sabrina.

Alan Turner said: “Why can’t they do one road at a time? Why bring our town to a standstill?”

Lisa Skilton said: “Surely doing one side of Eastgate Street at a time to keep traffic moving (albeit slowly) would have been a better idea. Or better still, they should have done it during the six weeks of school holidays when traffic is a lot lighter.”

Nicola Fenn said her usual 10-minute journey took 55 on Wednesday.

Shaun Jarvis said: “Bury is finished because of these imbeciles’ lack of organisation. They have brought misery and stress to the people who live here for years.

“I’m sure we all look forward to an hour sitting in traffic tonight in order to do the usual five-minute run to get home.”

Francesca Webber said: “All I can say is I’m thankful I live in the country, I avoid Bury.”

Leanne Lyness-Bell said it took her 48 minutes to drive from Moreton Hall to Northgate Street, while Melanie Soanes said: “Thankfully I don’t have to get across town, but school run and getting to work is ridiculous. Poor planning by highways.”

West Suffolk Council said it was notified of roadworks but was not involved in their organisation.

The Tayfen Road lights and Eastgate Street closure are due to end in a week.

A Suffolk Highways spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, there is no ideal time to carry out highway maintenance, especially in a busy town such as Bury St Edmunds.”

She said resurfacing of Eastgate Street and Angel Hill were ‘co-ordinated in agreement with all parties to avoid key events during the summer holidays’.

She added that they were working with Fulcrum and UKPN, which were responsible for the works in Tayfen Road and Compiegne Way, to ensure they were ‘completed as soon as possible to minimise disruption’.

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