Drivers see red over new traffic lights at junction

DRIVERS are seeing red over the introduction of new traffic lights at a major Morpeth junction.

The lights were built next to Telford Bridge during the ten weeks of roadworks in the town centre that resulted in a one-way system being put in place.

This enabled the lights, which will link with traffic management measures at the new Low Stanners supermarket, and the necessary cabling work to be done at the same time as gas and water main improvements in Bridge Street.

But there has been a backlash from some motorists since they were switched on last Thursday afternoon as they believe it has caused longer traffic queues than the roundabout that was operating before the roadworks.

Among the disgruntled people is Stobhill resident Paul Howey. He said: “These traffic lights are completely unnecessary.

“They have reduced traffic flow so much that at the usual slack times, the traffic heading into Morpeth is queued back up to the roundabout near the railway station. This was the case at 6.30pm on Tuesday and before the one-way system I could get to the town centre without much delay at that time.

“At rush-hour cars are doing three-point turns at Stobhill, something that I haven’t seen since the first few days of the roadworks.

“To anyone with even the smallest capacity for problem-solving, it should have been obvious that if traffic is stopped at a red light when there is often no other traffic coming the other way, the flow will be reduced.

“I would bring back the roundabout at Telford Bridge and keep the one-way system for Bridge Street and Newgate Street only. This would still allow people to turn right at the junction if they’re coming from over the bridge, but not allowing drivers to go straight on from St George’s Church or go along Bridge Street to turn right would ease the congestion.”

Northumberland County Council Network Manager Dick Phillips said: “The roadworks in Morpeth were completed last week and all traffic management systems were removed. Signs were put up on Friday to emphasise that traffic could now turn right after Telford Bridge.

“The current road surface, road markings and signage around the new traffic lights at Telford Bridge are temporary. Improved and permanent signage will be installed during evening works taking place on April 12 and 13.

“During this time, the road will also be resurfaced and improved road markings will be undertaken to clarify the new routes.”

Meanwhile, the Morpeth public and businesses have been praised for their patience during the roadworks, which were completed last week.

Council Executive Member for Infrastructure and the Environment Isabel Hunter said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank people for their patience during this time.

“We constantly listened to the views of retailers, shoppers and residents and amended the traffic system to improve it where appropriate and I believe this helped to keep disruption to a minimum.”

Northumbrian Water’s Project Manager Gary Cassells, said: “We would like to thank the residents, businesses and commuters within Morpeth for their patience and support while we carried out essential work to upgrade 600 metres of water main.

“This work will reduce the likelihood of leakage and safeguard water quality for the future. Our scheme progressed well and as a result of working seven days a week, for most weeks during the course of the work, we were able to upgrade our water pipes a week-and-a-half ahead of schedule.”