Hemel Hempstead residents criticise planned road closures that will cause 11-mile diversion
The council says emergency services will be granted access at all times
Residents in Hemel Hempstead are calling on Hertfordshire County Council to reconsider roadworks that will cause an 11-mile diversion.
Des Knowles, of Beechwood Park, has raised concerns about how emergency services will handle the diversion.
He says that from Monday the junction of Box Lane and London Road will have a large hole dug in it and there will be no access into Box Lane, there will be one way traffic along London Road. To get to Copperbeech Close drivers will have to approach from the Bovingdon end of Box Lane and the official diversion will be through Chesham - an 11-mile diversion.
The work is part of Cadent Gas's work to replace ageing gas mains and service pipes with tough new pipes. Road closures will be needed to keep engineers, residents and motorists safe while the work is under way.
Tony Burford, of Copperbeech Close, also raised concerns about the road closures and the impact it would have on residents and emergency services.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said that emergency services will be granted access at all times.
Des said: "Hertfordshire County Council are proposing to introduce a road closure at the junction of Box Lane and London Road (B4505 to A4251) Hemel Hempstead from Monday 18th for five weeks.
"The diversion is an 11-mile route via Chesham which will be applicable to emergency services and delivery services as well.
"This closure will effectively cut off two large estates, the village of Bovingdon and the Mount Prison from Hemel Hempstead and anywhere east of the B4251.
"Just hope no-one dies due to the ambulance delay or house burning down.
"Our two-mile journey to the doctors and other services in Hemel Hempstead and anywhere east of the A4521 will now become 13 miles.
"It is said that because when previous works were being carried out with one way traffic light controls a HGV caught a barrier and dragged it down the road.
"It is surely not beyond the wit of man to impose a diversion for unsuitable vehicles and allow access for cars and emergency vehicles.
"I, and all other residents, would appreciate your urgent investigation and a solution that will not endanger lives and unacceptable inconvenience to residents and others."
Tony added: "I think it’s unbelievable that no provision can be made to at least temporarily bridge the hole to allow access for the emergency services.
"The delay in detouring via Bovingdon could be life threatening, especially for those who live further up Box Lane.
"The fact that the road will be closed for five weeks is ridiculous. If someone on one of these roads needs emergency services, it will be an extra 11 miles to get here.
"What I do not understand is why they could not just put a temporary bridge over the hole, or a temporary road closure and allow residents and emergency vehicles through.
"We know the work needs to be done, and we understand that but to completely close the road for five weeks seems ridiculous.
"I don't think the person that made the decision must know how busy Box Lane actually is."
The work is part of Cadent Gas's project to replace gas mains and service pipes. Road closures will be needed to keep engineers, residents and motorists safe while the work is under way.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “Cadent Gas have explained that the road closure is necessary on Box Lane for five weeks as the Main is in the carriageway and minimum widths cannot be safely maintained.
"The road closure is therefore needed 24/7 during this period in the works programme. Cadent Gas will be working extended hours throughout the duration to ensure works are cleared as soon as possible.
"The road closure extents are from A4251 London Road – Beechwood Park. Our Network Management Team will be working closely with Cadent Gas throughout these works to ensure that any issues are dealt with fairly and that the outcome is the best one for the local residents.
"As always, Emergency Services will be granted access at all times.”
"We appreciate the inconvenience and delays in the local area these works are likely to cause, should we not allow Cadent Gas to undertake these works there will be a continued increase in emergency works which will have a wider spread impact on the Bovingdon and Hemel Hempstead area, with the potential for loss of gas supply.”
A spokesperson for Cadent said: "We have come to an agreement with the council that this would be the best thing to do for the area.
"The work needs doing and would mean no more leakages, the work has to be done, and the road closures will ensure the safety of everyone.
"The road closures are in place for us to do the work.
"It can be a busy and dangerous road, last time a driver was nearly badly hurt so this is for everyone's safety.
"The most important thing is to keep everyone safe and the road closures ensure that, the fact that it's lockdown also made sense timing wise.
"Emergency services have a diversion and it would depend what holes were open at the time but something could be done to allow them through."