IRATE?motorists approaching or passing through Alton via the Butts Bridge roundabouts have complained of traffic chaos caused by the next phase of South East Water’s £1.4m project to lay a new 3,000-metre pipeline to serve the growing number of residents living at the south-west end of the town.
Put in place in time to catch rush-hour traffic on Tuesday, the four-way manned traffic lights, needed to accommodate the closure of part of the carriageway at this point, led to drivers queuing for up to an hour to reach The Butts from the waterworks bend on the A339.
Others reported jams on other roads throughout the town as drivers tried to find alternative routes, many of them joining the queues caused by roadworks on Anstey Road.
Some 875 cars, vans and lorries were recorded using nearby Beechwood Road as a cut through during the morning and evening peak traffic periods.
On Wednesday morning, one driver reported queuing from Selborne and taking 40 minutes to drive along the B3006 to the turning onto the A31 at Alton.
The chaos at The Butts has been caused as South East Water embarks on the second phase of the project to lay a new pipeline from the Windmill Hill reservoir, across private land and along Selborne Road, Butts Road, The Butts and Whitedown Lane to the junction with the B3349 Odiham Road – work that is expected to be completed by February.
In a statement, South East Water said that this traffic arrangement will be in place until Jane Austen Regency Week in the middle of June when the area will be temporarily restored. After that the traffic lights will be reinstated to continue this part of the project, focusing on The Butts.
Matthew Cooper, the project manager at South East Water, said: “The safety of the public and our workforce is our number one priority when we carry out work, which is why we need to have temporary traffic lights in place.
“I would like to apologise for any disruption that local residents and motorists are experiencing but would like to assure the public that our contractors are working extended hours six days per week to ensure that this section of the pipeline project is completed as soon as possible.
“We know that roadworks can be disruptive and we don’t take the decision to implement traffic management lightly, but this is the only way that we can keep motorists, pedestrians and our workforce safe while this work takes place.”
He continued: “We have been working closely with the local highways department to look at ways we can try to minimise disruption, which includes manually operating traffic lights between the hours of 6am and 7.30pm.
“We are carrying out regular traffic counts and monitoring the flow of traffic and will continue to do this.”