Mill Road Bridge has reopened — but should it have stayed closed for good?

When plans to close the Mill Road Bridge for two months were announced it was met with both dread and joy. Many of those whose livelihoods depend on the shops and cafes Mill Road is known for expected to see a fall in customers; believing those who lived further away just wouldn’t bother trying to get there. However, many residents and a few business owners saw the bridge’s closure as being only a good thing.

For two months the bridge was completely closed to all traffic

For some time local Labour councillor Dave Baigent and Camcycle (a campaign for better and safer cycling provision in the city) have wanted a permanent end to through traffic on Mill Road.

Now, for two months at least, this was a reality. During this time a festival called Mill Road Summer has made the most of the road’s lack of traffic. Various events including movie screenings, quizzes and even hula hoop dance shows have taken place on the road.

A ‘parklet’ was also assembled outside Limoncello, using up some of the road space for extra seating outside the cafe so people could sit outside and enjoy the sun.

The opening of the Romsey parklet outside Limoncello

Staff at the Italian cafe and deli said the closure had been “very positive” and had given the road a “really nice atmosphere” which had brought more customers to the area, and they’d stayed for longer too.

Now, of course, the bridge has reopened, and the road has immediately filled with stationary cars thanks to the temporary traffic lights belonging to the overtime gas works close to the bridge. One resident told Cambridgeshire Live she waited 20 minutes on the road first because of the traffic lights and then because a delivery truck had completely blocked the road in both directions.

Mill Road Bridge has reopened — but should it have stayed closed for good?A lorry like this one completely blocked the road one evening while it made its delivery

The mass of traffic now back on the road is a big contrast to the last two months of a more pedestrianised Mill Road, and Cllr Baigent says this is exactly why through traffic needs to be stopped. “We’ve had the example now, you don’t need data to show people that they can talk to each other without shouting, that there has been less cars, clean air,” he said.

“For the last two months Mill Road has been like any other backstreet. This has been magnificent for people. “Now we need to prevent through traffic, we can just let the buses through so people can still get around.”

Mill Road butchers

However, not everyone shares these views.

Staff at the Mill Road Butchers, right at the foot of the bridge, are glad things are returning to normal. One employee said: “We are very happy it’s reopened. It has affected us but thankfully it’s not been too bad.

“In the first few weeks it was really bad, especially when they closed the pedestrian crossing. After a few weeks things settled down a bit. “We do have the benefit of having a wholesale business serving restaurants.

If it hadn’t been for that we would have probably have had to let a few people go. “We’ve definitely had to alter how we run the business because of the closure so very glad things are going back to normal.” Have you enjoyed Mill Road being traffic free, or are you glad things are returning to normal?

Let us know in the comments.

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