PREPARATIONS are underway to ready a site and its surrounding roads for the controversial Network Rail flyover in Hitchin.

The �62m scheme, which will be used to relieve rail congestion, will accommodate trains on the East Coast main line between Cambridge, Peterborough and London King’s Cross as well as stations inbetween.

Contractor Hochtief Construction has now been appointed to the project, and is working with Network Rail to prepare a traffic management plan at the North Herts District Council (NHDC) planning meeting next month.

Plans to accommodate lorries and other vehicles travelling to the site include reducing the speed limit to 40mph on Stotfold Road, and creating access roads.

Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC’s portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise, said: “The main contractor has been appointed and will work alongside Network Rail to deliver the scheme.

“Preliminary site clearance has now begun before the formal commencement of the project with the Stotfold Road site entrance and access works in late November.

“Throughout the construction, NHDC will work in partnership with Network Rail and Hertfordshire County Council to ensure that residents, businesses and other organisations are kept informed on its progress.”

The project has attracted criticism in the past, with Wilbury residents arguing it will disrupt their roads, and cause congestion and safety issues. Environmental aspects have also been brought up by Transition Town Letchworth members.

But Network Rail has said that it hopes to work with these groups, and will keep residents updated on the scheme.

A Network Rail spokesman added: “Network Rail is committed to building considerately and will do everything we can to keep disruption from this work to a minimum.

“With this in mind, we plan to build an access road to the site to separate our construction traffic from Hitchin and Letchworth town centres as was highlighted in the public enquiry in May 2010.

“We are of course mindful of the impact these works will have on residents and we will make every effort to keep affected residents informed throughout the process. Regular meetings are being arrange with the resident group representatives, business operating in the area and the council.”