Like many residents who have been in touch with me over the last few days, I was unaware that the A422 through Farthinghoe was going to be closed, and have been closely following the situation as it has unfolded.
My team has spoken directly with Rebecca Miller at Northamptonshire Highways who is overseeing the works, and the closure has been necessitated due to recent rapid and significant deterioration of the bridge over the Farthinghoe Stream.
Concrete barriers have been put in place to restrict access, given the scale of the damage, and a diversion route is in place via the A43 and the M40; local access for residents will obviously be maintained. The next steps are for Northants Highways to work with the Environment Agency and various utilities companies to work out how to undertake the repairs in such a way which is both safe and won’t disrupt the sewage, gas and other lines that run close to the bridge.
It is not expected that any significant repair work will happen before the end of the year because of the need to do these assessments, but there is the potential hope that a “prop” can be put in place to make good the bridge temporarily to allow traffic to move under the control of traffic lights. However, a full closure would still be required to enable the actual repair works.
Clearly, this situation is not ideal but I obviously fully support all moves by the relevant highways authorities to make safe our local roads, even where this may be to the inconvenience of road users. I am grateful to Northants Highways for taking swift action to close the road safely and to inform local residents about the pressing need to do so.
I have contacted Cllr Ian Morris at Northants County Council to ask him to ensure that the diversion routes are properly signed and that access is maintained for local residents at all times.
The closure of the A422 through Farthinghoe, and the disruption it is inevitably going to cause, only strengthens our position that we absolutely need a bypass for the village as soon as possible. I have written to my colleague Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, to ask him to look favourably upon the proposals for a Farthinghoe Bypass that I included in my response to the Department for Transport’s recent consultation on a Major Road Network. The County Council and the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership will be putting in a joint bid for MRN funding for the bypass as soon as we can.
As ever, I would be happy to hear your thoughts on any aspect of the above.