CONCERNS have been raised that hundreds of motorists could be fined for flouting a road restriction imposed following the closure of Durham’s New Elvet Bridge.
As part of new traffic arrangements, a restriction has been introduced allowing access for only buses, taxis, cycles and authorised vehicles heading north along Quarryheads Lane, from the roundabout (there are no restrictions southbound).
But City of Durham parish councillor Roger Cornwell said he had seen up to 100 cars an hour ignoring the signs on Monday, the first day the bridge was closed.
He said: “Drivers are treating it as other bus lanes in the county, but unauthorised use carries a fine of £60, reduced to £30 if paid in a certain period. There is camera monitoring this lane.
“On Monday, I counted about 100 cars going through every hour, which is a lot of fines if they are going to enforce it.
“This needs to be publicised so that people can save themselves a lot of money.
“The signs they have erected are permissive signs in blue. It would perhaps be clearer if they were red signs, saying, ‘no entry with the exception of buses’ – that may have more of an effect.
“I just hope the council is going to send out warning notices to begin with.”
Dave Wafer, Durham County Council’s interim head of transport and contract services, said: “We are aware of some drivers not following new restrictions which have been introduced in Quarryheads Lane. Although a camera is in place to monitor this, it was always the plan to issue warning notices during the first two weeks to those drivers who fail to comply.
“This will also give us more time to process the details of nearby residents who are able to use the road, alongside other authorised vehicles. We would however encourage all drivers to abide by these restrictions to help keep traffic flowing around the city and ensure public transport is running to schedule while essential repairs are carried out to New Elvet Bridge.”
New Elvet Bridge will be fully closed to traffic and pedestrians for up to 14 months, while essential repairs are carried out to make the bridge structurally sound.
Drivers are asked to plan their journeys in advance to avoid peak travel times, leave additional time for their journeys, and where possible to consider alternative routes and alternative forms of transport, such as public transport or the park and ride services, in line with latest government guidance.
Suggested diversions can be viewed on the county council’s website www.durham.gov.uk/newelvet.
The parish council’s planning committee will meet to discuss the bridge closure at its meeting at 2pm on Friday, accessible by zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83637600507.