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Market Place works cause traffic chaos

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FROMEresidents are up in arms about a three-week delay to reopen the Market Place to traffic – a closure that has been described as causing “hell” for vehicles across the town.

The Market Place has been closed to traffic since late June, when work began on the town council’s second phase of improvements to the area – the road was due to reopen after 11 weeks last Monday, 7th September.

However, the discovery  that some existing utilities’ pipes and cables in the area that don’t comply with current regulations, has caused a three-week delay. The road is now expected to open from Friday 25th September.

Despite the delay to reopen the road, the town council has reassured residents that the project is still on schedule to be completed by 12th October, within the 16-week timeframe.

Local resident, Patrick Turner, who has noticed traffic tailing back as far as Wallbridge because of the works, said, “[I] have lived here over 20 years and [it’s the] worse I have seen it. If you live on the main road it is hell! Traffic goes on until 9pm Friday and Saturday.

“The last three times I have been in the town centre there seems to be very little work being done too. Two guys only there working and seem to be in no rush.”

A spokesperson for Frome Town Council said, “The three-week delay on opening the road is due to the discovery that some of the existing utilities, pipes and cables had been laid previously much higher than expected and they don’t comply with current regulations.   These services will be lowered or protected as a result. 

“Whilst the road will reopen on 25th, works will then continue as specified for another two weeks and ultimately the whole scheme will be delivered within the 16-week time frame.”

Dave Sartin, the Market Place project manager from IMA Transport Planning Ltd added, “This couldn’t be helped or anticipated.  It was not until the services were uncovered that we discovered they were not at the correct depth below the ground. This is why there is always contingency built into the project time, so that the works can be delivered to an agreed specification regardless of what we find. 

“Whilst Griffiths, the onsite contractors, have worked hard to recover time, the workers who were due to put the finishing touches to the road now find themselves in a local lockdown in Caerphilly due to Covid-19 restrictions.  

“They have sourced a backup team and these will be on site until 25th September. However, we have been able to continue with other aspects of the work and so, whilst the road reopening is delayed, ultimately the scheme will be finished on time.”

“Once in a lifetime opportunity!”

Councillor proposes Market Place traffic closure be extended

FROME Town Council has been asked to consider extending the closure of the MarketPlace to traffic for the enjoyment of pedestrians and traders.

According to Mendip District councillor for the Frome College ward, Drew Gardner, residents and traders have “enjoyed” the temporary closure and would like to see it extended. He also added that despite concerns, the closure has not caused “chaos” in the town as predicted.

Speaking at last week’s Frome Town Council meeting, cllr Gardner suggested that the council consider extending the closure to through traffic until at least the pandemic has passed, and described it as a “once-in-a -lifetime opportunity”.

Clerk for the town council, Paul Wynne, agreed to consult with town councillors about taking the idea forward, before it is brought to a future meeting for public discussion.

The Market Place is currently closed to traffic whilst Market Place improvements by the town council are carried out. The road was due to reopen last week, but this has been delayed for three weeks until Friday 25th September. 

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