Friern Barnet and Whetstone residents know all about the effects of the roadworks currently taking place on the Bounds Green section of the North Circular Road. They see very clearly the congestion when they go to Tesco and wonder as the line of traffic stretches back towards Finchley Central.
|A view of the traffic jam from the Colney Hatch bridge|
Frequent users of the North Circular, who are heading towards Southgate or Winchmore Hill or Enfield, have learnt to exit at the intersection with either Colney Hatch Lane or the Finchley High Road.
Some drivers on their journey east, wanting to skip a few hundred yards of crawling traffic, use the Tesco slip road, cross over Colney Hatch Lane and take the slip road towards the retail park, before re-joining the North Circular.
|A new footbridge at Telford Road, Bowes Road and Wilmer Way|
For years, the Bounds Green section of the North Circular has been an anomaly, as it went from six lanes at the intersection of Pinkham Way and Station Road (by the New Southgate gas holder) to three lanes along Telford Road. The next stretch east from the dog leg, at the intersection of Telford Road and Bowes Road, to the Clockhouse intersection at Green Lanes accommodated only four lanes in total.
The politicians dithered for years about providing funds for road widening. Over the years there have been many Ministers of Transport of different political parties, who as far as Friern Barnet residents were concerned, were all useless. Houses along the North Circular were purchased, the occupants were moved on, the houses started to disintegrate. With a change of plan, these houses were refurbished, and are now being sold off.
The funds having eventually been found to provide three lanes in each direction, and the widening road-works started in March 2010. One of the first effects of the roadworks was to reduce this major arterial road, in certain sections, to just two lanes in total. This has inevitably caused even greater traffic chaos in Friern Barnet (and places beyond). Since the roadworks started, even more regular drivers of the North Circular have learnt to get off the North Circular and head towards their destinations via Finchley High Road, Colney Hatch Lane and the narrow roads of Friern Barnet.
Thanks to the North Circular Road congestion, local residents are familiar with the gridlock around Tesco’s car park, when it is difficult to get in and impossible to get out.
Along the roadworks from the intersection with Station Road to the Clockhouse/ Green Lanes intersection there is much building, rebuilding and modifications taking place at the same time. Most of the work is to widen the road, but there are other projects—a new footbridge is being built; existing electrical and water supplies are being diverted; and the culvert handling Bounds Green Brook is being modified.
The new footbridge is being constructed close to the dog leg where Telford Road, Bowes Road and Wilmer Way intersect (see above). It is near to the existing footbridge by Bowes Road school. There was talk of having a push-button traffic light system at this point to provide disabled access to the school. Such a scheme on this busy part of the North Circular would inevitably lead to one or two schoolchildren being flattened. Hopefully, the on-demand traffic light scheme has been abandoned, and access across the road will be provided by the new footbridge. Hopefully, sense has been seen.
The bridge carrying the Piccadilly Line is one of the 'pinch points' on this section of the North Circular. There are three arches to the bridge; the central arch can take four lane of traffic, and the two outer arches could take at least one lane each. It is not clear, at the moment, how the bridge may be reconfigured to take three lanes in each direction. The railway bridge carrying the Hertford North section of the railway line is another of the 'pinch points'. However, it is easy to see that, by using the previous green space, as well as the second arch of the bridge, three lanes can be created in each direction.
Before Spring 2012, various sections of the roadworks will be completed and opened up, and so the days when the road can take only one lane of traffic in one direction will come to end. And, the lives of Friern Barnet residents, as far as traffic is concerned, should begin to improve. Telford Road, during the roadworks, traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction.
(in a recent article in the magazine of Friern Barnet and Whetstone Residents' Association.)