Highways England to close A49 overnight from Monday – bizarre diversions need urgent action

We have an urgent need to repainted road markings and road studs along the A49 north and south of Ludlow. The markings at the junction of the A49 and the B4365 (the road across the racecourse), for example, are barely visible. The junction needs refreshed lines and new studs to reduce the risks of accidents.

At last the work is going to be done by Kier Highways, a company working for Highways England. The road will be closed from 9pm to 6am from Monday 31 October to Friday 11 November. But the diversions proposed are bizarre. The proposal is to divert all traffic, including HGVs onto the narrow residential streets of Craven Arms and Ditton Priors. At least, I think that is what Kier is proposing in the most confusing letter I have received since becoming a councillor.

Keir, a Bedfordshire company working for Highways England, wrote to local residents last Monday, 24 October using Royal Mail. I received my copy today, 29 October. Second class post takes two to three days, so I don’t know why the letter took five days to arrive,

This work is welcome. But it will be disruptive for many people and we should have had more notice. This work must have been planned for months.

I don’t represent Craven Arms or Ditton Priors but I do know the area well, as many of you will. Here are the route directions provided by Keir to get around the road closures in Craven Arms if you are heading to Ludlow.

Diversion Route Craven Arms to Rocks Green Roundabout B4368 & B4364

Take Market St and Newton St to Corvedale Rd/B4368, Head south on Market St towards Dale St, Turn left into School Rd, School Rd turns left and becomes Newton St, Continue on B4368 to your destination in Ludlow, Turn right onto Corvedale Rd/B4368, Continue to B4368, Turn right, Turn right, Continue onto Derrington Rd, Continue onto South Rd, Continue onto Oakwood Rd, Turn right onto B4364, Turn Right onto Rocks Green/A41, Enter the roundabout. Diversion ends. [sic]

This makes no sense to me at all. Highways England seems to be suggesting that drivers go around in circles on the back streets of Craven Arms before heading (possibly via Ludlow) to Ditton Priors and then taking a long route south to Ludlow via Cleobury North.

Are Highways England planning to divert HGVs down Newton Street and School Lane in Craven Arms in the middle of the night? These are both residential streets with a lot of parked cars. There is not enough width on these roads to take two cars at once, let alone two HGVs – even one HGV. The roads in Ditton Priors are hardly suited for HGVs and nightime traffic either.

This diversion is bizarre. Incomprehensible.

Highways England doesn’t need to close the entire length of road from Craven Arms to Woofferton all at once. They can just signpost local diversions as and when needed.

We are seeing more and more of these stupid actions by companies who have no local knowledge and don’t check their facts. If local councils and councillors had been given more notice of these roadworks, we could have helped get the diversions right.

The Construction Team Leader from Kier’s base in Upper Strensham, Worcestershire, says in his letter: “I would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience or disruption you may experience during this work.” I think he should apologise for the confusion he has caused with his letter and explanation of proposed diversion routes.

And he needs to act quickly to get the diversions right.

Kier A49 Letter to Residents 24 October 2016