Residents fear road misery when Hitchin rail loop is built

RESIDENTS in North Herts face a year of misery on the roads when the �54m Network Rail Hitchin rail loop is built. Hitchin councillor Judi Billing said: Nobody is going to escape the consequences of the building of this rail loop. We are just going to ha

RESIDENTS in North Herts face a year of misery on the roads when the �54m Network Rail Hitchin rail loop is built.

Hitchin councillor Judi Billing said: "Nobody is going to escape the consequences of the building of this rail loop. We are just going to have to grin and bear it. In Hitchin there has been a lot of disruption recently and residents have been quite brave.

"This rail programme is about progress."

But Lucy Kitching-Ward of Wilbury Hills Road, Letchworth GC says the prospect of having one heavy lorry carrying tons of equipment passing her home every two minutes means misery for her and other residents.


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"I am not opposed to the rail link but more should be done to keep all of the construction traffic away from Letchworth," said Mrs Kitching-Ward.

"I want to see a full public consultation before formal planning is applied for in October as there is only a six week period after the application for anyone to lodge objections and observations to North Herts District Council (NHDC).

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"I have estimated that a heavy goods vehicle will be passing my doorstep every two minutes on top of all the other traffic. Network Rail told us there will be on average 280 construction vehicles a day using the A507. It will be hell here when the project starts.

"The whole of the road to the A507 will be involved. They intend to bring every ounce of plant, material and equipment and personnel along that road. Why can't Network Rail split the traffic 50/50 with the A505 which is an A road to take the additional traffic with no trouble at all? Why does it all have to come past Fairfield Park and along Wilbury Hills Road which isn't even a B road?"

Her neighbour Richard Robinson said: "This has come like a bolt out of the blue to residents. Wilbury Hills Road is a very bad road to cross at the best of times and it is also a major route to Fearnhill School with the footpath right next to the road.

"We need a full public consultation to try and take some of the traffic away from this area."

NHDC councillor Michael Paterson, who represents Letchworth East, said: "Nothing is set in concrete. Network Rail is being advised this is the route they might take.

"As far as the council is concerned everybody's concerns will be taken on board and I can understand their fears."

Network Rail says Hertfordshire County Council, NHDC and the local police have suggested using the A507 would be the least disruptive route.

The construction site will be accessed from Stotfold Road, just north of the railway bridge with traffic going backwards and forwards via the A1.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "We recognise that construction could have an impact on people who live nearby and we are continuing to consult with the local community on our plans in order to minimise any impact."

Network Rail hopes to apply for planning permission by the end of this year and is hoping permission will be granted in 2011 with work starting the same year and be completed early 2014.

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