'It's making my life hell' – Row over 'nightmare' roadworks escalates
Angry drivers are backing a campaign to speed up “nightmare” roadworks they claim are grinding a town centre to a halt.
Colchester is suffering, claim motorists behind a petition calling on Essex County Council (ECC) to shorten time taken to replace double roundabouts in Ipswich Road and Harwich Road.
Business owners warn they are losing money while parents claim they are struggling to pick up and drop off children.
More than 1,500 people have pledged their support for a bid to speed up the £10million project – expected to take two years and finish in 2020 – in a matter of days.
“Disney was built in just under two years, this is two roundabouts,” said petition author, the man behind hyperlocal Twitter account Colchester Views.
“Colchester is suffering, and the 15+ month schedule is not acceptable.”
He fears what will happen at Christmas, and wanted to show the strength of feeling by collating a list of people unhappy with the scheme.
One driver signing the petition said it is causing “so much stress”, while another revealed “it’s a nightmare, and making my life hell”.
Meanwhile, one businesswoman signing the petition said she works on nearby Cowdray Avenue.
“It’s caused a massive loss of business, and affects my income,” she said.
And one concerned parent added: “The volume of traffic caused by the backlog from these roadworks has resulted in my son nearly being late to school.”
Concerns are also being raised about the town centre, with several motorists revealing they would rather go to Ipswich than sit in standstill traffic.
“People are already boycotting Colchester,” said one driver.
While another admitted: “I’ve stopped coming to Colchester now and do my shopping in Ipswich.”
Extensive traffic surveys were carried out ahead of the project, and highways chiefs say it will improve efficiency at both junctions.
However, they said contractors will be on site until at least winter 2019.
Kevin Bentley, ECC’s cabinet member for transport, apologised for disruption but said the council has a responsibility to deliver the work within budget.
“I sympathise greatly with everyone affected by the delays in this area of Colchester, particularly at peak times,” he said.
“I am very sorry this work is causing people difficulties.
“We know many people have found alternative routes and some have taken to buses, bikes and walking for short journeys at those times.
“The queues are very unfortunate, but are an unavoidable consequence of needing to make these vital improvements to traffic capacity and safety along these key routes through and around Colchester for years to come.
He added: “We have to keep the A133 and the vital junctions at Ipswich Road and Harwich Road open to avoid bringing the town to a halt, which means we can only close one lane at a time on St Andrews Avenue which makes the work take longer.
“This is a multi-million project and we have a responsibility to deliver this work within budget.”
He also urged members of the public to bear with the authority during the work.
“The improvement scheme is complicated by the need to move utility pipes and cables, strengthen walls and work only on part of the road to keep one lane open throughout,” he added.
“The scheme has to be done in phases, so that some work to widen lanes can only be done after utility services have been moved, for example.
“We are constantly talking with the main contractor, Eurovia, to see where any traffic management can be improved or where there are opportunities to manage the programme of works to finish in as short a time as possible.
“Please do bear with us, we greatly appreciate the patience shown by road users who understand that for safe working and safe driving we must have the barriers in place in a planned, coordinated way.”