Concern has continued to mount that Horncastle will become gridlocked during major roadworks over the coming weeks - delivering a blow to the town’s economy.
As revealed in the News, a programme of improvements will be carried out in West Street and Langton Hill - and their junction with the A158 - between August and December.
Officials at Lincolnshire County Council claim everything possible will be done to keep disruption to a minimum while access will be retained for residents and businesses - when possible.
A system of permits could be introduced to allow vehicles to gain access to closed areas.
Inevitably, some roads will be closed while in some instances, the recommended detours will stretch over 30 miles - for journeys that normally would cover a couple of hundred yards.
That has sparked concerns among residents and councillors that surrounding routes will become ‘rat runs.’
There are also claims that when West Street is closed, traffic will back-up through the town centre and onto the already congested Louth Road.
Business owner Phil Cantwell initially feared roads would be closed for much longer but believes there will be in impact on the town.
He said: “West Street will be closed for a maximum of three weeks which is long enough, but better than three months.
“I have spoken to a lot of the businesses in the West Street area and while we all accept the work needs doing, there is a concern about deliveries and an overall drop off in trade.”
Resident Peter Moore said he was worried about extra traffic - especially HGV’s - on Accommodation Road and Prospect Street.
He said: “When they close Lincoln Road at night, how many vehicles are going to use the diversion?
“It’s 20 or 30 miles when people can drive down Accommodation Road, Prospect Street, the Market Place and back out onto the A158 in the Bull Ring.”
Sadie Abbott said traffic heading to and from Woodhall Spa during the Langton Hill closure would cut through Thimbleby.
She added: “The council might have the best intentions but people aren’t going to drive miles out of their way.
“Village roads can’t cope - not with the speed vehicles travel. Lorries are some of the worst.”
Other residents said they believed routes like Shearman’s Wath, Fifty Acres and Hemingby Lane would all be used as temporary rat-runs.
Andrew Marsden added: “ The town centre is going to be rammed. It’s hard enough getting out of High Street onto Louth Road now.”
There has also been strong criticism of the County Council’s lack of consultation in the process.
The council says it has done everything it can and promised letters will be sent out before the work starts.
There has been no announcement yet on what will happen to buses which won’t be able to use West Street.
The programme of works is:
Phase 1 – West Street resurfacing
The first phase, scheduled to take place from Monday 20 August to the morning of Monday 10 September, will see West Street reconstructed from the junction with Reindeer Close to the Bridge Street/Prospect Street junction.
As part of this, a 24-hour road closure will be in place throughout the works. Daytime parking restrictions will also be in place between 8am and 7pm.
The council says: “We’re working closely with Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School to ensure that vehicle access is maintained for buses and staff for the duration of these works. Businesses along West Street will also be open as usual and access for residents, shoppers and employees will also remain in place.”
Phase 2 – A158 improvements
Includes resurfacing and junction/traffic signal improvements
The second phase of works will see junction and traffic signal improvements, along with carriageway resurfacing, bridge deck waterproofing and new road markings, carried out on the A158 from Monday 10 September for seven weeks.
Throughout these works, permanent two-way temporary traffic signals will be in place on the A158, along with road closures on West Street and the B1191 Langton Hill (from its junction with Osbourne Way), preventing access onto the A158. Also, no access to West Street or Langton Hill will be possible via the A158 during this closure.
During the A158 resurfacing works, which will take place towards the end of October for two weeks, the A158 will be closed between the hours of 7pm and 6am. As part of the road closure, a signed diversion route will be in place.
A detailed programme of phase two works, including road closure dates, diversion routes and other traffic management information, will be made available closer to the works.
Phase 3 – Langton Hill Development access and new footway/cycleway.
The final phase of the project is expected to take place for six weeks, between October and December. This phase will see access into a new housing development built, along with the construction of a shared footway/cycleway into Langton Hill that will connect to the existing path.
Traffic management for the final phase of works will include a full road closure from Langton Hill to its junction with the B1191 (with a local diversion and residential and business access maintained).
However, this third phase of works will not start until the A158 works are complete and all traffic management is removed.
Richard Davies, Executive Councillor for Highways at LCC, said: “We intend to do everything we can to minimise the impact.However, there will inevitably be some disruptions. We’re asking road users to consider alternative routes and to remain patient as any short-term inconvenience will be greatly outweighed by the long-term benefits.”