Roadworks set to cause even more months of misery

MOTORISTS and residents face months of traffic hell in West Hampstead with disruptive works set to carry on into the summer

Ed Thomas

MOTORISTS and residents face months of traffic hell in West Hampstead with disruptive works set to carry on into the summer.

Thames Water is carrying out major underground work in the area south of Mill Lane, with large cranes, noisy drills and heavy machinery working throughout the day.

Sumatra Road, Pandora Road, Holmdale Road and Narcissus Road are currently blocked off to traffic causing tailbacks on the already busy Mill Lane and West End Lane.

Residents are furious the work is going to carry on until June at the earliest.

"The traffic has been terrible since this work started and with the schools going back this week it's even worse than ever," said a café owner on Mill Lane, who asked not to be named.

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"A lot of parking spaces have been lost because of the blocked-off roads and people are getting really annoyed.

"I realise the old drains need to be replaced, but why does it have to take so long? Almost every road in West Hampstead is affected by this, because of the tailbacks. So many of our customers have been complaining."

Charlotte Ayres, who lives on Sumatra Road, had her water supply disrupted just before Christmas.

"Things were completely messed up and we only got our water supply back two days before Christmas after four weeks of problems," she said.

"It was a real pain, as we couldn't take a shower.

"But at least the work is being done to prevent problems in the future."

And Illie Dbouk, manager of David's Deli on West End Lane, said: "Mill Lane and West End Lane are really busy now. It's always been a short cut for people wanting to avoid the Finchley Road but it's a lot worse now.

"Some of the corners are quite tight, so big buses and lorries are causing chaos."

This situation is the latest in a long line of roadwork headaches in the area.

Recent water and gas supply problems in Quex Road and West End Lane led to tailbacks. And before that long-running works on West End Lane bridge caused more traffic misery.

A spokeswoman for Thames Water said the work is being done to replace the area's decrepit drainage system.

She said: "Since July we have been undertaking a massive programme of works to reduce the risk of internal sewer flooding at 197 properties.

"We are constructing a storage sewer underneath the Peace Park and installing new sewers in Dennington Park Road, Holmdale Road, Mill Lane, Pandora Road, Solent Road and Sumatra Road.

"This will provide extra storage in periods of high flow, reducing the risk of flooding. When this flow returns to normal, the tank will pump the stored sewerage to the treatment works at a controlled rate.

"Work is progressing well, and will be completed by June 2008."