TRADERS in Melksham are urging people to shop in the town despite the traffic problems caused by repair work to the town bridge.
Since work began on the bridge on Monday 23rd February gridlock has hit the town centre meaning some shoppers have been put off visiting the town, with motorists claiming it can take over 30 minutes to travel the length of Bath Road.
However, traders are urging shoppers to support the town. And drivers are suggesting that a one-way system would ease the congestion.
Simon Hedley who owns CJ’s cafe said, “People moan about what we don’t have in Melksham. So by avoiding the town it affects so many businesses and some could have to close. Support your town centre and help us build on what great shops the town already has.”
Petstown which is located right next to the town bridge has also suffered as a result of the work and owner Barry Franks is urging shoppers to support local shops. He said, “The works have really affected us here and we have noticed a drop in takings.
“Customers have told us that they won’t return whilst the work is ongoing and whilst we understand why they say that, we really need all the support we can get. It’s difficult for small businesses like us and we need as many people as possible to use the town.
“It has been frustrating and the fact we were not told about the works makes it harder as we could have prepared for this. We understand that the work needs doing, but it has made things difficult.”
Traffic congestion is expected to continue for some time as work is not scheduled to finish until the middle of May.
It has been suggested by some readers that a one-way system should be introduced to make the traffic flow more freely.
Local resident Ric Ellinger said, “Why not make the road over the bridge one way going out of the town (towards Lidl) That way, there would be a constant flow of traffic down the High Street.
“Traffic lights would no longer be needed on the bridge to regulate the traffic flow. I would even go further during these roadworks and make the whole of the High Street from the NatWest/Hatters roundabout to Lidl one-way to encourage the traffic flow.”
That thought was echoed by Barry Franks of Petstown who said, “A one-way system has been mentioned by a few customers since the bridge works started and I think it is a great idea.
“Traffic would flow and it would encourage more people into Melksham.”
Julian Haines, principal bridge engineer for Wiltshire Council hasn’t ruled out that possibility. He said, “I think it is fair to say that the traffic lights currently installed on the Town Bridge appear to be causing disruption to the town and problems with vehicles entering and leaving the two supermarket car parks.
“We are under pressure to implement a one-way system across the bridge in a similar way to what was used when the works were done in Bank Street a few years ago. I would say however that whilst we have had our fair share of complaints, that according to engineers who dealt with the Bank Street scheme, they also experienced a significant number of complaints about the one-way order.
“Certainly it would appear that in the first week of operation the one-way order was less well received than the current traffic lights. Inevitably things do take time to settle down, people need to alter their driving habits and seek alternative routes and experience suggests the first week is always the worst.
“Having said that, we are willing to consider implementing a one-way order if that is the will amongst the townspeople, I would therefore appreciate any comments you may have so that we can if necessary get the necessary wheels in motion.”