September always heralds a sense of that back to school feeling and with it the routines and renewed energy following the end of summer. It also, as many of the travelling public will know, often signals the start of road works on our highways.
We all know the frustration of sitting in traffic trying to negotiate our way through the cones or having to take a diversion to get to our destination. Whilst the nuisance is acutely felt it is of course a reality of life that to ensure we keep the road infrastructure moving and fit for the 21st century, we continually need to invest and upgrade the network. Congestion is increasing. There are more cars on the road, more goods being transported and we are all leading increasingly busy and complex lives.
The truth is that whilst every effort is made by the contractors and engineers to minimise the impact there is no easy way of meeting this demand and keep staff on the ground safe, without the traffic cones coming out. Putting it bluntly it is short term pain for long term benefit.
This is very much a case in point on my mind this autumn. Next Monday we will be carrying out our annual maintenance responsibilities on Poole Bridge. The work will involve closing the route for seven days to ensure the crossing is maintained in excellent working order.
Whilst this bridge, which is well over 80 years old, has been subject to recent issues which needed a closure, all of which have been addressed, it does not negate our responsibilities to service the whole structure each year just as a car needs its MOT.
And in October £11.7million worth of improvements are due to start at Townside, focused on the Hunger Hill roundabout. This is the final part to be delivered in the Port of Poole scheme funded by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal Fund, aimed at streamlining journey times between the Port of Poole and the A31. Gravel Hill was completed in 2016 followed by Darby’s Corner and Poole Bridge.
There is no avoiding the issue, this last section involving one of the town’s major roundabouts, is going to create some delays which we will all have to try and bear with during the nine months of work. When complete, what it will bring about is more efficient journey times, improved safety and a new public open space. We will all have to remind ourselves of this and remain as patient as possible during construction.
Please use the time now to think about your journey. Can you take any alternative routes or change the time you travel? Do you have the option to work more flexibly or consider car-sharing or cycling? Whilst not everyone can do this please consider all options.
In the meantime I would like to thank everyone in advance for their patience and consideration.
Thanks for reading.
Councillor Janet Walton