Friday, 28 June 2019

Avoiding Hatfield Road

At times it can seem like a conundrum with no easy solution, but the question of avoiding driving along Hatfield Road, can be countered by the equally exasperating how to avoid Sandpit Lane, and even how to avoid the bypass.

When traffic flows smoothly on all three roads between Hatfield and St Albans there is no issue, and at least on two of the roads the resulting extended travelling times are, hopefully, temporary.

In Hatfield Road, readers may recall, a few months ago gas pipe replacement work was undertaken in St Albans Road West, between Smallford and Ellenbrook.  For the next two months similar work is to start between Smallford and Oaklands with the inevitable one-way working using temporary traffic signals.  This is a busy section at the best of times and two new permanent signal sets have been installed at Oaklands College (pedestrian controlled) and at Kingsbury Gardens.  The former is near the uncontrolled  junctions of  Colney Heath Lane and South Drive, but so far the interruption to flow has been minimal.  But in a foretaste of what is to come temporary signals in three phases arrived recently near Oakwood Drive and Longacres.  Standing traffic queued back as far as Smallford roundabout.

Junction improvements in Sandpit Lane.
So, if that is not to your liking you could try driving westwards via Sandpit Lane, but you are likely to be queuing soon after the House Lane roundabout.  The reason here is road surfacing, new junction, footpaths and roundabout at Oaklands Grange, near Barnfield Road.  Work has been ongoing for several months, and the recent difficulties have probably resulted from some drivers trying to avoid the Hatfield Road works – which are about to get even worse.

Of course, once clear of Newgates the next queue is at the Beechwood Avenue lights, where there seem to be more vehicles than usual turning left to return to Hatfield or Ashley roads, but no doubt a proportion of drivers continue west to find alternative routes nearer the city.  And I have noticed a small increase in cars and vans turning north into House Lane, no doubt heading for Marshalswick and the fiveways junction at the King William IV.

So, let's try the bypass.  You might join it at the Roe Green interchange and westwards you may have a fairly easy journey as far as London Colney's congested roundabout – though continuing further west to avoid the city you could join a long queue on the approach to Park Street.  

Normally, travelling eastwards takes time on approaching Roe Green, although we might be applying the brakes anywhere back to Sleapshyde Lane, but once this junction has been negotiated, on the green as it were, you are buoyed at the prospect of a swift journey through the tunnel, except that recently eastbound traffic has sometimes been stationary underneath the Galleria and very slow moving as it leaves the A1(M) on the approach to the former Jack Olding's junction.

I can find no obvious cause except for the usual "weight of traffic", but travelling between Hatfield and St Albans is presently fraught with problems and therefore expensive on fuel and time.  Best to leave a generous amount of time for your journey and stock up with some extra patience!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Growing and Growing

It is a measure of how busy the early summer months can be, that we have reached  23rd June, by which time the third post of the month is usually published, and this is the first June blog post!

It had always struck me how many cars lined the roads of Fleetville and other local districts during the middle of the day, where you might expect many households to be out of the house at places of work.  As most local folk have known for a long time commuters from elsewhere have combined free street parking with a brisk walk to the station; a routine highlighted recently with the introduction of residents' parking schemes in the parallel roads of Fleetville, when there was a sudden increase of all-day parking in those further roads hitherto not affected.

In the early days of the old station building in Ridgmont Road most commuters walked to the station – and there was a steady movement of westward-exercising pedestrians calling in at the paper shop on their way to catch the 8.22.  A proportion of them turned to the buses when they began to operate in the 1920s and from the 1950s the commuter might be driven to the station with the spouse returning the car to the domestic garage – we could do with more of that today but the family car has been replaced by the personal car.

The old station was torn down in 1973 when the new buildings were opened in Station Way, a road which did not exist before then.  I am sure the waiters for trains welcomed the new more spaciously provided facilities.  These, of course, have encouraged more users,  multi-storey car parks have been added, more services and longer trains.  And now the overcrowding within the station as a result of the line's popularity, is to be relieved with more concourse space, a second footbridge (who remembers the station entrance and footbridge on the road bridge itself?) and extra capacity at the Ridgmont Road entrance.

But the real question to be asked is how far from the station would commuters be prepared to park their cars and what proportion of their total journey would then be driving compared with walking?  We need to know these things, and I feel sure someone has already completed a survey on the subject.