Addenbrooke's Dutch roundabout plan spells ‘months of gridlock misery’
Work on the proposed ‘Dutch-style’ roundabout – the first in the UK – due to start in September will cause seven months of gridlock and chaos, angry residents claim.
The layout, planned for the Fendon Road, Queen Edith’s Way and Mowbray Road junction, gives priority to pedestrians and cyclists over motorists. But the south area council committee meeting on Monday (July 22) heard that the construction work will cause months of traffic trauma at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and disrupt thousands of local lives.
A packed south area residents’ meeting in Cherry Hinton’s Village Leisure Centre challenged the safety record and value of the new roundabout.
Residents heard that the Netherlands operates 4,000 of them, and the Fendon roundabout experiment will be a UK first – but plans to close Queen Edith’s Way had been poorly thought-out, and presented at too short notice.
Norman Benton, who has lived near the roundabout for 50 years, said: “Council plans to close both arms of Queen Edith’s Way for 29 weeks will create gridlock. This is the most important change to Cambridge traffic for years, and it will cause chaos: urgent cases just won’t be able to get to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and hours of consultant time will be wasted.
“It’s the same old story: fail to prepare, and you must prepare to fail.”
One angry resident asked if any attempt had been made to cost the damage caused by the closures, adding that to start the works on the first day of the new school term was “a kick in the teeth”. They also queried the value of a £750,000 roundabout when so many surrounding roads were in bad condition.
Newly-elected chair of the south area committee, Cllr Colin McGerty, told the Cambridge Independent: “Residents are rightly concerned about delays caused by this closure. We were given little reassurance that the 29-week build will not overrun and the public have not been consulted about alternative build schedules.
“People were somewhat relieved to hear that parking on the diversion route along Nightingale Avenue will be suspended during the works but some wondered where those cars will end up.”
Cambridgeshire County Council secured £550,000 of funding from the Department for Transport in 2018 to create the roundabout. The total cost is estimated to be £800,000, with £250,000 coming from developer contributions. Work will start on September 9 and last for 29 weeks. Both the Queen Edith’s Way entry and exit roads to the roundabout will be closed during the work.
The county council’s project manager, Grant Weller, told the south area committee that plans are in place to remove all street parking on Nightingale Avenue for the duration of the roadworks, which will allow vehicles to pass through more easily.
Asked after the meeting where the cars currently parked on the road will go, he said: “We are encouraging other modes of sustainable transport. For example using public transport, cycling or the park and ride.”
Addressing safety concerns, Mr Weller said information would be sent out to thousands of residents, and a campaign advising on how the roundabout is intended to operate, including a video explainer, will accompany its opening. He added that Stagecoach was invited to give up an update to the public at the meeting on how routes would be affected, and added the bus operator said no one was available.
Describing the roundabout, the county council’s website says: “Work will involve installing a new Dutch-style roundabout to improve safety in the area, by giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists over motorists. One of the key elements is a change in carriageway width, designed to influence slower approach and departure speeds, thereby reducing the speed of drivers. Pedestrians will be provided with zebra crossings on each of the four roundabout entry / exit arms and on the crossing points over the cycle paths. Cyclists will be given their own cycle path, in contrasting red tarmac, to give them equal priority over motor vehicles.”
Asked after the meeting where the cars currently parked on the road will go, he said: “We are encouraging other modes of sustainable transport, for example using public transport, cycling or the park and ride.”
Further public meetings will be held updating residents on August 29, 12pm to 2pm at Addenbrooke’s Concourse; September 2, 5.30pm to 7.30pm at Netherhall School; and September 4, 3.30pm to 6.30pm at St James Church on Wulfstan Way.