CONTROVERSY surrounding traffic lights in South Shields town centre shows no sign of abating any time soon – with council officials saying they remain “under review”.
The lights, at the junction of Ocean Road and Anderson Street, have attracted fierce criticism from drivers since they were installed on April 7 with some motorists claiming they had caused huge queues and longer journey times.
Council chiefs launched a review of the set-up after a petition from more than 500 residents and drivers demanding they were axed, amid calls for the reinstatement of a roundabout at the junction.
Last month, Town Hall officials told the Gazette that the lights would be monitored over the spring bank holiday at the end of May before the findings would be discussed at a meeting of the town’s Riverside community area forum.
But the thorny subject wasn’t on the agenda at last week’s meeting and today a spokesman said vehicle movements at the junction were continuing to be closely monitored.
The forum next meets again on Tuesday, July 22 – more than a month away.
Meanwhile, a Gazette survey carried out yesterday afternoon found that the biggest build-up of traffic was from vehicles travelling up Ocean Road, then either turning right to Anderson Street or left in the direction of Coston Drive. At that location a backlog of 20 cars was observed to wait for one minute and 45 seconds on red.
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said: “We continue to review the scheme at the junction of Ocean Road and Anderson Street so we can get the best out of this busy junction for motorists and pedestrians.
“We have been closely monitoring the junction and making further adjustments to reduce the waiting time for vehicles, including removing a diagonal pedestrian crossing.
“We have also installed advisory signs on approach, making motorists who do not need to access Ocean Road aware of alternative routes available.
“We have installed counters at the junction to monitor pedestrian and vehicle movements, and will look to assess the data in the coming weeks.
“This work is ongoing and we will be reporting back to the Riverside community area forum in due course.
“We want to find the best solution that works for all road users and increasing numbers of pedestrians accessing Ocean Road and the foreshore.”
One ‘alternative route’ sign is now located in Beach Road and Anderson Street, directing vehicles away from the junction towards Littlehaven and Haven Point on the coast.
The second diversion, from Ocean Road to Seafield Terrace, directs traffic towards Gateshead/Newcastle and the A194 and A19.