I spent more years than I can remember at the Hertford Transport Forum discussing the vexed question of Fore Street.
Or more precisely the western end of Fore Street which connects it to Parliament Square.
There was no argument that this small section of road created more questions than answers. It also created a rat run through the town for motorists wanting to avoid the eastern direction on Gascoyne Way.
It was noted in the Hertford Urban Design Strategy that ‘traffic entering from the west creates a conflict between pedestrians, cars, buses and cyclists.
‘Furthermore, the western end of Fore Street is two-way for buses but not wide enough to allow two vehicles to pass without either mounting the kerb or using the designated give way area, which is often ignored by motorists. This in turn creates damage to the footway which is costly to maintain and repair.’
They failed to mention that although it was two-way for buses it was only one way for all other vehicles including taxis. They also overlooked that at one time it was home to the country’s shortest cycle route – about two metres! Perhaps the shortest in Europe – or the world!
Then as if by magic Hertford County Council solved the problem overnight by blocking Fore Street just before Church Street.
Now no vehicles be they buses, cars, taxis or forty foot pantechnicons can access Fore Street from the west.
As we all knew at the Transport Forum there was a problem with denying access to Fore Street from Parliament Square. How do you police it in the softest possible way? Not now. You just can’t drive through it.
Even the HUDS report saw the odd drawback. ‘Restricting the use of the western section of Fore Street to buses, cyclists and pedestrians would also limit access to the town centre and Folly Island for those travelling from the west. This could result in additional vehicle miles and an increase to journey times for residents, visitors and servicing vehicles.’
What they were trying to say was that there would be an increase in traffic along Gascoyne Way leading to traffic jams, high density of traffic and fumes, delayed arrivals and shorter tempers.
However the general consensus formed from various council and public consultations was that overall people were in favour of it. See graph below.
The HUDS study thought that permanent closure should be a long term aim but HCC have smashed that theory.
It is no time to be rejoicing as this was as a result of the pandemic but it will be interesting to see what the effects of closure are and if they are going to be made permanent.