ROADWORKS have caused a different kind of delay to the usual traffic jams in Wisbech.
In fact they are being blamed for the delayed introduction of the new scheme for Wisbech Market Place.
Speaking exclusively to the Citizen on Wednesday Wisbech Town Council leader David Oliver told of his frustration at having to delay implementation of a scheme, which will see the Market Place partially pedestrianised.
It had been hoped the scheme would be up and running by this Spring after the town council took over responsibility for the Market Place from Fenland District Council last autumn.
But Mr Oliver said when plans to install a new gas main through the town centre along High Street was announced in early January it was decided to hold off on the new traffic system.
He explained the planned work will mean High Street being closed to traffic for around a month.
And installation of the gas main, which was due to happen in February was itself delayed because of the already on-going work on Nene Quay, which has seen one side of that road closed to traffic.
“It would have caused chaos to have both Nene Quay and the High Street closed at the same time. On top of that we didn’t want to introduce the new one-way system through the Market Place and out of Church Terrace only to have to make it two-way a few weeks later when work on the gas mains began. As a result we felt it was better to postpone the Market Place scheme until after the roadworks have finished,” said Mr Oliver.
He added: “I understand people’s frustrations, I’m frustrated myself. We had hoped it would be up and running by now. But I can assure people that work has been going on in the background making sure everything is in place ready for when we can begin the work.
“We have also had to consult with various parties on whether or not we need planning permission to put up certain signs and we have also been in consultation with the county council over a new speed limit for the Market Place.
“They were suggesting 20mph and we were questioning whether it should be slower than that, but we have agreed to try 20mph and see how that works. If we feel it needs to be changed then we will be able to do that later as it is being done on a trial basis.”
He said some work will be done such as the installation of signs and the marking of parking bays on the 99p Store side of the Market Place, while High Street is closed so that everything is ready once the gas work is complete.
“If everything goes according to plan then we hope the scheme will be in place by September, but it depends on whether there are any additional delays caused by the gas works,” concluded Mr Oliver.
The new scheme will see time-limited parking bays on the 99p store side of the Market Place, while the W H Smith side will closed to traffic permanently.
Drivers will be able to access the Market Place either from Hill Street or High Street, but they will only be able to drive round once.
Drivers from High Street will have to turn past the 99p store and exit out through Church Terrace. Vehicles coming from Hill Street will be able to either turn past the 99p store or continue out through High Street.
This should help control traffic flow making it safer for pedestrians and stopping motorists from continually circling the Market Palce looking for a parking space.
The parking bays will be time-limited and there will be fines for those drivers who over-stay. The Market Place will be closed to traffic on Market Days.
It is hoped the new scheme will finally end the chaos which has been part of the town centre for so many years making it safer for pedestrians and motorists alike.