Business owners on a Banbury industrial estate have come up with a better way to manage traffic during roadworks which were ‘disastrous’ last time they were attempted.
Thames Water pipe replacement work on Beaumont Road in February was so disruptive that it was abandoned after two weeks of traffic misery and complaints.
Beaumont Industrial Estate employers agreed with representatives from Oxfordshire County Council and the water company to a new solution for the roadworks at a meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting at Cleenol was arranged by Banbury and District Chamber of Commerce and chairman Nick Poole hoped it will improve the situation when the roadworks return, possibly later this year.
“I thought it was a successful meeting and that’s what we look to do from the chamber of commerce, to help businesses if there’s a blockage somewhere to unblock it and in this case it was literally a blockage,” he said.
“We can bridge the gap between government departments or utilities and businesses for the better.”
Thames Water’s work to replace a pipe underneath Beaumont Road caused long delays as the eastbound lane was blocked between Southam Road and Beaumont Close with a one-way system meaning motorists could only leave the estate via Ruscote Avenue.
Cleenol managing director Richard Greaves said: “There was mayhem, it was taking an hour to get out of the estate, we couldn’t get deliveries in or out, the whole estate was gridlocked.”
A bus was sent around the estate two weeks before the roadworks began to inform businesses but people at the meeting said the people onboard knew very little or nothing about it.
Attendees said they had similar problems getting information from Thames Water during the roadworks, with people failing to come to meetings or ignoring emails.
After two weeks, the roadworks were gone and the priority to return was ‘dropped to the bottom of a spreadsheet’, Huw Thomas from Thames Water said.
The meeting at Cleenol was arranged to consult traders on a better traffic management solution, and a number of possibilities were suggested with help from the county council’s highways team.
The least disruption method was to have a one-way system going the other way so traffic can only enter the estate from Ruscote Avenue with temporary traffic lights allowing motorists to turn right.
One business owner made the point that the group had decided on a better solution than the qualified experts did.
Mr Thomas also said the work was meant to take eight weeks but believed it could be shortened, much to the delight of the attendees.
County council cabinet member for environment Cllr Yvonne Constance suggested doing the work over the Christmas period or August to reduce the impact.
Mr Thomas apologised for the mayhem caused by the previous roadworks, admitting they need to do more consultation beforehand, and said he would come back once it was looked at more thoroughly.
“What we need to do now is sit down with the council’s highways team and crunch this down,” he said.
“Then we can look at what we can do with the place, see if we can make it work and come back a month before a see if it will work with you guys.”
Mr Poole added he hoped to arrange another meeting before the roadworks return.