Town will not be cut off during HS2 work

K Turfrey (HS2: Why is our MP sitting on the fence? KWN January 23) claims: “All the routes to Coventry will be cut. The route crosses the A46, Dalehouse Lane, the Old Warwick Rd and the Kenilworth road etc. These closures will be for months not just a few weeks and make Kenilworth an island like Tewkesbury in the floods.”

Your readers should not be misled by this scaremongering, and take note instead of what was actually said to the HS2 Bill Select Committee on January 14 by James Strachan, QC, for the Department for Transport. The following quotations are from the Select Committee’s official transcript.

Regarding Dalehouse Lane, Mr Strachan stated: “It was said that Dalehouse Lane has been closed. It has not been closed. The only period of tie-in works when, having constructed the alternative route the road has to be tied in, are the sort of overnight tie-in works where it may be necessary to shut the road for a very short period to allow the tie-in work to happen itself.

“But the whole point of the offline diversions is to ensure that there is always a route through. Insofar as those overnight tie-in works occur, we have already indicated that we would ensure to stagger them so that even during those short tie-in periods there is not any time when more than two roads are shut.”

Regarding the A46, Mr Strachan said: “The scheme involves keeping open the A46 whilst the HS2 route is constructed. That is done by maintaining the three lanes of traffic flow by creating a temporary diversion on one side of the road and allowing three lanes to flow using contraflows so that the volume of traffic can be kept the same through three lanes on both sides.

“The only exception to that is when there are tie-in works . . . during those periods of tie-in works for those diversions it would go down to two lanes each way during the day, one at night during off peak periods for those temporary time works. That is the extent of it.”

In response to these statements, Martin Smith, chairman of the Stoneleigh Action Group, commented: “I am assured, thank you, that we are going to get two roads left open at any one time.”

It is also clear from what has been said at the Select Committee hearings that the impact on other roads has still to be determined in discussion with Warwickshire County Council or Coventry City Council, as the respective Highway Authorities.

Although it is never stated by HS2’s opponents, when the current Bill is enacted it will only give outline planning permission for the scheme, and final details will have to be agreed with the local planning authorities along the line of route.

By the way, in the context of many comments made to the HS2 Bill Committee by local petitioners, I do wonder sometimes how Kenilworth ever survived, more than 40 years ago, between 1972-74, when the A46 bypass was being built, As a civil engineering project in its time, it was pretty massive but as the recent evidence given to the Select Committee has demonstrated, no one (including the objectors to HS2) would be without it now! In another 40 or so years, perhaps the nation would not want to be without HS2, either.

Alan Marshall, Inchbrook Road, Kenilworth