The Clock Roundabout and the A1(M) experiment – gridlock

The Danesbury Residents Association (DRA) continues to take the lead in trying to bring the authorities’ attention to the shambles they have created on the Clock roundabout. The DRA has been demanding action since August 2015.

The Welwyn Hatfeld Times, almost one year ago, quoted County Councillor Richard Smith and reported that the traffic light control that the DRA had called for, was at long last going to be installed.

But nothing happened, and following surveys of traffic flow and possible ANPR sites in the summer of 2016, (see The Clock Traffic Light Survey of July 2016) the DRA has been told that even more survey work would be needed before the scheme could proceed.

What scheme?

A recent exchange of emails between the DRA and County Councillor Richard Smith has revealed that, following the appointment of a new Development Manager by Hertfordshire County Council, the plan now is to upgrade the A1(M) between Junction 6 (Welwyn) and Junction 8 (Hitchin) to “Smart Motorway” status and to widen the carriageway from 2 to 3 lanes by using the hard shoulder.

Worse – the design phase of the scheme to upgrade the A1(M) is said to be ‘on schedule’, but work on the ground will not begin until 2019/20 for completion in 2021/22.

Has that news got anything to do with easing local Welwyn traffic problems with an interim measure to install a single ‘temporary’ traffic light?


It would therefore appear that Highways England’s highest priority is to keep the traffic flowing on the motorway and they are not in the least concerned about Welwyn village.

With no prospect of traffic light control at the roundabout, the DRA has decided to ask for  hatched ‘keep clear’ areas to be painted on the roundabout between the north end of the Welwyn bypass and the entry to the northbound A1(M) slip road. That should be a quick and relatively cheap project that should not distract the A1(M) planners too much from higher matters? If at least some drivers respect the hatched area, as some indeed do, then perhaps this will help to avoid the grid-lock which is occurring too frequently at both ends of the working day.

The DRA is pressing hard for a meeting of Senior Officers from both the Borough Council and the County Council, to meet DRA representatives at the roundabout during typical morning and evening rush hour periods to assess the problems at first hand.

But what should be done with drivers who exit the roundabout without signalling, and in so doing deny other car users the opportunity to make use of the gap that should have been created?