Relief for villagers as ‘chaotic’ Ufford road closure lifted a week early

The road closure in Ufford has since been lifted ahead of schedule. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The road closure in Ufford has since been lifted ahead of schedule. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Villagers are breathing a collective sigh of relief today, after a ‘chaotic’ road closure was lifted one week early.

Traffic congestion in The Avenue during the final week of a road closure in Ufford. Picture: CONTRIB

Traffic congestion in The Avenue during the final week of a road closure in Ufford. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

The stretch of Ufford High Street had been set to close for up to a month while contractors connected supplies to new homes and widened a footpath in the village, near Woodbridge.

It sparked concerns of traffic disruption if motorists chose to curtail the distance of an official diversion via the A12 by passing the closure along village roads.

A publican also feared business would suffer due to customers being deterred from visiting – despite signs declaring ‘businesses open as usual’.

On the first day of the closure, an ambulance had to backtrack en route to treat a patient in Alderton for a neck injury.

Parish clerk Judi Hallett said: “The congestion was, in some cases, as chaotic as predicted.

“At one point, 16 cars tried to pass each other along The Avenue. It was only resolved when someone directed traffic into the community centre car park.

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“The impatience of some drivers has been frightening. A lot of near-misses were reported, and some people ignored signs – trying to squeeze through the closure.

“We will be discussing the impact – and what action can be taken for any damage to verges – at our next meeting.”

The work was part of a housing development at Crown Nurseries by Landex Ltd. When work began, the firm said it regretted any inconvenience the closure may cause, but that the route and signs were in the hands of the county council and its contractors.

The parish council said signs at the Wickham Market end of the closure failed to properly indicate a diversion route. But, highways officials responded by saying the positioning of extra signs and barriers went “well above and beyond the minimum required”, and that neither they – nor the contractors – had power to control the actions of road users.

A county council spokesman said companies collaborated to ensure only one road closure was needed, rather than a number of closures causing extended disruption, and that contractors and the traffic management company did all they could to complete work as soon as possible.

He added: “As a highways authority, everything possible was done to make it clear the road was closed, businesses remained open and that there was a diversion route all motorists should use.”

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