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Parts of Northampton town centre have been brought to a standstill today as the new £7m North Gate bus station has struggled to cope with the volume of buses and passengers.
It's reported delays began as early has 9 o'clock this morning as buses began to back-up trying to access the new North Gate.
On Saturday night, the 1970's Greyfriars Bus station closed to be replaced by the new, but smaller, North Gate.
By mid-afternoon, buses began backing up on all the approaches roads, especially Greyfriars... passing the old bus station.
Heart reporters in town say it was only after the intervention by Northants Police that traffic gridlock was cleared.
Latest advice from Northants Police
Police officers are continuing to enforce road closures, following the earlier congestion in the town centre.
Temporary closures remain during rush hour today:-
- The junction of Lower Mounts and Wellington Street – for traffic travelling towards Greyfriars
- The junction of Lady’s Lane and Wellington Street – for traffic travelling towards Greyfriars
- College Street
Other restrictions in place
- St Katherine’s Street – entry is only being given to parking customers and Bounds private hire taxi’s. Traffic is being allowed to leave from St Katherine’s Street onto Horsemarket
- Gold Street is only open to buses
- Traffic is prevented from entering Gold Street from Kingswell Street – traffic is being diverted along Woolmonger Street
Northamptonshire Police is continuing to work closely with Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council on this matter.
Northampton Borough Council response
David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council told Heart: "We are currently on the scene at the bus station to find out what is happening and to get the area moving again as quickly as possible.
We are with our colleagues from Northamptonshire County Council and the bus companies to try to find out what has caused these issues and resolve. There were no problems during rush hour or yesterday but our first priority is to get things moving again for passengers and other road users as quickly as possible.
We have asked Northamptonshire Police to help support our staff in directing traffic, so that we can concentrate on resolving the situation."
Northamptonshire Police said they are now directing traffic and have also closed off College Street between Silver Street and Gold Street.
Later a joint statement was issued by the Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council:
"We have been working throughout the day at North Gate bus station to identify the issues that have caused today’s traffic gridlock in Northampton and to resolve them. Things worked well during the (morning) rush hour so we need to find out why the traffic became gridlocked as the day wore on. Northampton Borough Council, Northamptonshire County Council and the bus companies have been on the scene trying to get things moving again and discover what the issues are as well as getting traffic moving as quickly as we can.
We are looking at the traffic management plans as a matter of urgency to ensure that there is no repeat of the problems we have seen today. We knew that there would be teething problems as there are bound to be with any such major project and we acknowledge that these were major. We apologise to all the motorists and bus passengers who were caught up in the delays today and we thank them and acknowledge their concerns."
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