Signs have been out on the A4117 advertising a road closure between Monday 19 April to Friday 7 May inclusive. Cue concerns about traffic chaos, complaints about rat running and a heavy postbag for Richard Huffer and myself. We have been discussing the proposals with Shropshire Council officers who have worked hard over the last few days to reduce the impact of the “carbon neutral” resurfacing plans.
It was initially proposed that the A4117 would be closed during the day. It has now been agreed that the works will now take place overnight only. Details of signage and barriers to discourage rat running along Squirrel Lane is being negotiated. The road through Caynham was due to be resurfaced at the same time, which was have made problems much worse. That project has now been pushed back until the A4117 work is completed.
Firstly, a thank you to everyone who has contacted us in the last few days about the various roadwork schemes east of Ludlow. It has taken a few days for officers to negotiate with contractors to get a scheme we can live with. We are still concerned about rat running overnight along Squirrel Lane and will continue to discuss that with officers.
The work is part of Shropshire Council’s carbon neutral patching and resurfacing programme. The council plans to treat an area of the A4117 from Rocks Green to Snitton Lane with restrictions in place from Monday 19 April to Friday 7 May inclusive.
Closing this road during the day would create problems for schools, public transport, vaccination centres, the daytime economy regeneration after the pandemic in the rural south, and could lead to HGV rat running through local lanes. The highways team examined whether a convoy traffic signal control – reduced speed limit with vehicles being guided for some distance through the works on a shuttle basis – and at alternative methods and closure times.
The highways team assessment identified several pinch points on the route where the limited carriageway width would not allow convoy working. The waiting time and queue lengths for traffic waiting convoy working would also cause the same level, if not worse, traffic disruption than a full closure. For these reasons, night time closure of the A4117 has been agreed as the least disruptive option.
Traffic will be diverted on onto an official like for like route signed via the A49 and A456 via Burford to re-join the A4117 and vice versa. Like for like is a highways rule. You can’t officially divert traffic from an A road to a B road, or from a B road to a C road. It is of course a fantasy rule. Traffic, like water, flows on routes of least resistance and those are too often narrow country lanes with the routes often promoted by the sat nav in the cab.
Shropshire Council has requested Kier amend any existing signage to make clear that the closure will be overnight. Kier has also been asked to update its communications to affected council members, parish councils, transport groups and neighbouring authorities advising of the revised timings. Kier has also been asked to deliver a further information letter to directly affected properties as soon as possible.
The plan is for the junction of the A4117 at the east end on Squirrel Lane to be barred by a physical closure. This will ensure that the road access between Sheet and Henley will only be from Sheet Road from 8pm to 6am for the duration of the closure. Emergency and limited local access will still be able to use the access from the A4417 if needed.
We have seen that this arrangement has not worked before. The barriers at Henley on the east end of Squirrel Lane have been removed by drivers to allow a free flow of traffic leading to significant damage to the wildlife rich verges.
Daytime resurfacing of the road through Caynham was planned at the same time as the A4117 closure. Even though the A4117 closure has been moved to overnight, we argued that the plethora of signs would lead to confusion. The Caynham roadworks have been kicked into touch until after the A4117 work is completed.