From 12 May Newmarket Street is to be closed eastbound for a month to allow drainage upgrade work by Welsh Water.
Havoc is sure to be caused.
It only takes a cat crossing Friars Street to cause traffic to back up past Belmont Abbey—our collective minds are still trying to work out in which Welsh valley town the queue will start with the ring road closed!
Already people are talking of leaving their car at home and walking to work. And with the roads sure to be gridlocked we may see an unintended social experiment take place.
What might happen if a majority of city residents decide to cycle, walk or take the bus? Might this prove once and for all that Hereford traffic is caused by Hereford people making short, unnecessary journeys?
Successive councillors have used the long-proposed bypass more as a vanity project than any sensible solution to our transport issues.
But having been rejected central and regional government grants to build it the latest Tory administration has parroted a triple-pronged growth agenda: sell land to housing developers to fund the bypass and build an enlarged shopping district to service the needs of the increased population.
It is therefore in the council’s interest to hope the city grinds to a halt in order to justify that bypass—the only thing in many people’s eyes this administration has going for it.
We have always been of the opinion that a bypass is not the right option for the city’s traffic problems. And, crucially, nor is it the right option for the environment.
Despite council encouragement to use alternative methods of transport, without investment and an actual viable alternative put in place first people just aren’t interested. Who would bike round the Tesco roundabout squeezed in between a HGV and F1 wannabes!
But perhaps the thought of four weeks of traffic jams (and the rising price at the pumps) might just see a change in people’s habits.
Will we be Hereford … or Amsterdam?