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Long halt summer; WALES MAJOR ROADWORKS SPELL GRIM TOURIST SEASON...

Byline: By HYWEL TREWYN

FED-UP motorists and hauliers are bracing themselves for yet more cones, diversions and delays along the region's roads this summer.

Three weeks of resurfacing work at the A55 near Broughton starts today, in a project thatwill cut traffic travelling through the gateway in and out of North Wales to a single lane.

Night-time drivers will be sent three miles out of their way through Saltney, as east and westbound lanes are closed alternately until June 30.

Then in the west, a 40mph speed limit will slowtraffic on the A487 trunk road fromGolan to Penmorfa, near Porthmadog, during a similar three week resurfacing project from June 23 to July 18.

On the A55, delays will be compounded by a series of closures of tunnels and headlands at Penmaenbach, Pen y Clip, and Conwy, for a programme of maintenance work and safety checks that will continue until the end of the year.

The eastbound Penmaenbach tunnel was closed for three days until yesterday, meaning traffic was reduced to a single lane contraflow through the west-bound tunnel. That will happen again on September 23 to 25.

Similar disruption is planned on nine more occasions until December.

It all adds up to more misery for drivers who thisweek have had to contendwith road closures for central reservation grass-cutting causing delays and snarl-ups along the A55 at Halkyn and Rhuallt Hill.

Motorists around Conwy are also suffering because of works on the Conwy bridge, and a month-long diversion around Llandudno Junction andDeganwy because ofWelsh Waterworks at the Daily Post and North Wales Weekly News roundabout.

The Welsh Assembly insisted the resurfacing and maintenance work had to be done to ensure the safety of road users - and that they've tried to avoid carrying them out during peak tourist periods.

But Tory ClwydWest AM DarrenMillar joined infuriated motorists in questioning why they all had to be carried out now when the region's roads already appear to be clogged up.

MrMillar said: "It's more and more inconvenience for local residents and for visitors and hauliers. There's roadworks between Mold and Halkyn which I got stuck in today trying to get back from a funeral.

"People are fed up. Obviously essential safety work has to be carried out but it seems very unusual that it all must be carried out the same time.

"It's infuriating to see cones on the road particularly on the weekends when there's no work going on."

Motorist David Roberts, from Wrexham, said yesterday it was taking him an extra half an hour to get to work each day because of the roadworks.

"What's particularly infuriating is that there are huge stretches of the A55 reduced to a single lane with hardly a workmen in sight," he said.

"The other day, traffic was gridlocked for ages ahead of the lane closure on the eastbound carriageway.

"When I finally got to the coned-off section, all I could see were a couple of workmen trimming the grass on the central reservation.

"I think it is disgraceful they are causing such chaos on a major road like the A55 for such a ridiculous reason. Can you imagine the consequences if Britain's motorways were reduced to a standstill so a handful of workmen could stand in the middle of the road mowing the lawn?

"It's nowtakingmeup to three hours getting to work and back rather than two, it's an absolute nightmare.

"The economic cost to North Wales of delaying tens of thousands of motorists in this way doesn't bear thinking about."

Motorist Richard Owen said it took him 20 minutes to travel fromGyffin, Conwy, towork at Llandudno Junction, and faced two sets of roadworks on the one mile run.

He said: "There are traffic lights on the Conwy bridge which hold me up for 10 minutes at rush hour and then I can't turn off the Weekly News roundabout because the road is closed in that direction.

"I have to go on a diversion through the back streets of Llandudno Junction that again adds 10 minutes on the trip when it is busy.

"On Wednesday after doing the school drop at Henryd it took me half an hour to get to work, a trip of less than three miles.

"Commuters in London move quicker than that."

One office worker from Northop Hall said: "You can find yourself stuck in front of one set of lights and then a little bit further on you are stuck in front of another set of lights.

"And they've also set up 40mph restrictions which they could increase because its causing more delays and yet more misery for motorists."

A Welsh Assembly spokeswoman said the tunnels work involved "routine closures for general maintenance and upkeep of the network."

She said: "It is routine safety inspections and basic routine maintenance which includes gully cleaning and maintenance of the electrical systems for the signage."

CAPTION(S):

Single lane traffic is likely to become an all too familiar sight on many key North Wales roads...; Picture: STACEY ROBERTS
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 5, 2008
Words:835
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