The County Council is set to go ahead with restrictive traffic plans despite pleas to reconsider.
The closure of Station Bridge in Hucknall for major repairs is set to go ahead tomorrow and remain closed until October.
But nearby businesses who rely on the bridge say they are furious at the council and British Rail's handling of the major works, which they say will cause huge 'traffic chaos' for the next six months.
Business owners at the Wigwam Lane Industrial Estate have expressed their concerns to British Rail and Nottingham County Council Highways Department about the proposed diversions for some 300 lorries a day traveling through Hucknall, which they say will do little spread the traffic build up around local roads as some routes have been banned due to weight limits.
All traffic over 7.5 tonne will have to go through Bestwood Village and over Moor Bridge, and this decision will not only cost the businesses travelling time and fuel money, but it will also create chaos at Moor Bridge, said business owner Rudi Tinga.
The director of Empire Concrete in Wigwam lane said: "At rush hour the traffic is now already chaotic, but when lorries also have to take this route to reach Hucknall, it is expected that everything will come to a complete stand still."
In a meeting with Nottingham County Council's traffic manager Peter Goode on Friday, April 28, the business owners asked Mr.Goode to temporarily lift the weight limit through Linby village. But after investigating the possibility the council has decided to uphold their original plan for weight limits.
Councillor Mick Murphy said: "We recognised that the County Council and Rail Track have not done enough to communicate with Wigwam Lane businesses about their plans and especially the diversion and issues that will affect local businesses. For that reason we have pushed for them to come and meet local businesses in person and listen to their concerns.
“I feel that the Highways Department and Rail Track do not want to meet the wishes of the businesses and they don’t seem to understand the affect the diversion will have on their profits and the environment.”
Director Mark Flint from Oakfield Recycling, who are also based at Wigwam Lane, said "The Council is not listening to the councillors or the local businesses concerning the impact of the diversion to Moor Road and Bestwood Village. They can take away a portion of the burden by temporarily lifting the weight limit through Linby.”
Hucknall is hit by various road works since the beginning of the year and the traffic will be disrupted for many more months to come. There are works on the A611 and on Watnall Road. Hucknall Town Centre is in turmoil because of the new road that will enable High Street to become a pedestrian area. “A few weeks before the closure of the bridge 3-way traffic control lights have been put in at the top of Wigwam Lane, which is already causing disruption. We are dreading the 6 months bridge closure. It is not only affecting us because of longer journeys, but also the many companies who deliver to our yard”, comments Sally Hewe of Total Reclaims Ltd. “The communication about the road works has been very, very poor!”
Ashfield District Councillors Ben Bradley and Mick Murphy, who represent the Hucknall North area that contains Station Road Bridge, haver criticised the Council for their approach to diverting traffic during the closure of the bridge, which will last from June 4th to late October as Network Rail tear down and rebuild the bridge over railway lines.
The pair, whose Council Ward also contains the businesses on Wigwam Lane, say that the county have been unwilling to listen to the concerns of residents and businesses on this issue.
Two weeks ago the Councillors met with representatives from the County Council Traffic Management Team, along with bosses from haulage and logistics firms from Wigwam Lane, to talk about the proposal to divert over 300 heavy goods vehicles a day through Bestwood Village and down to Moor Bridge, where they say there is already a huge congestion problem. Bestwood residents and Parish Councillors have also made representations to the County Council, concerned about the safety implications of all the additional HGV traffic.
Following the meeting the County agreed to look at other options, including lifting the voluntary weight limit through Linby temporarily to 'spread the load' of traffic. However, this week they have come back saying that they will press ahead as planned.
Councillor Bradley, leader of Ashfield Council's Conservative Group, said: ''We don't think the County have thought this through, and the communication has been very poor. These guys on Wigwam are trying to run a business, it is not sufficient for them to just find out diversion plans a week before the closure when all the signs go up for the roadworks.
"They need open discussion so that they can plan for their businesses. Not only that, but this level of HGV traffic should never be all pushed down a single B-road through Bestwood, it would make far more sense to spread that traffic over a wider area, and it will then have a reduced impact on safety and congestion.''
Councillor Murphy fears that the current diversion plan will actually increase congestion for the whole town. He said: ''If a lorry needs to get from here (Wigwam Lane) to Annesley, normally a 10 minute journey up Linby Road, it now has to go down through Bestwood to Moor Bridge and back up through the town, adding 30 minutes to the journey, adding more congestion, more pollution, more cost to the businesses.
"It's an awful idea, especially when they could do it in 10 minutes through Linby, and especially when lorries have already been allowed access through Linby to get to the new housing development on Wighay Road anyway. Not only that but it's taken phone call after unanswered phone call to the Council, email after email with no response, just for them not to listen anyway!''
Neil Hodgson, Nottinghamshire County Council’s service director for highways said: “Network Rail’s essential repairs to the bridge are scheduled to take up to 20 weeks."
“It is the County Council’s responsibility to decide, from a highways point of view, what we consider to be the best diversion route for traffic and that is one which takes larger HGV vehicles through Bestwood Village.
“It will add traffic to the route and we understand the frustration which businesses and residents will face. However, there is no suitable alternative route.
“The fundamental problem with the alternative being suggested through Linby is that, not only is there an environmental weight limit in the village which has been in place for many years, but also that a diversion would cross what is known locally as the Griffin’s Head junction at Papplewick.
“The geometry of this junction is not good and to put additional vehicles, particularly HGVs, through that junction would not be a correct nor wise move on our part.
“There are, however, no restrictions on lighter traffic so the environmental weight limit does not apply to cars, which would be able to find a shorter diversion route.”