Hertford Bypass and A414 Traffic

A bypass would introduce new concerns while exacerbating existing problems.

Bypasses might sound nice in theory – but how do they work out in practice? Other local examples, such as Buntingford and Bishop’s Stortford, illustrate the likelihood of large amounts of infill housing, once a bypass or ring road has been completed. If a bypass were to be built around Hertford, its population might increase by up to a third. This would tend to foster more local traffic, potentially reducing the benefit of any bypass.

There’s another conundrum in the case of Hertford. It’s a town which suffers from rush-hour congestion, undoubtedly. However, surveys carried out pre-pandemic for Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) have shown that over a third of rush-hour traffic on the A414 in Hertford is attributable to people driving to/from County Hall (or the East Herts Council HQ alongside it, at Wallfields). County Hall happens to have one of the largest car parks in the whole of the county. HCC encouraging its staff to work from home has tended to reduce rush-hour congestion.

The last time that HCC proposed a Hertford bypass, in the winter or 2018-9, Hertford Civic Society invited the then lead Councillor (Derrick Ashley) to present HCC’s case at a public meeting, which the Civic Society hosted as impartially as possible. Over 200 people came to this meeting in Hertford’s Catholic church (in January 2019). After the Councillor had outlined his case, there was some lively discussion. The vast majority of people of people who were present voiced their opposition.

This ‘community resistance’, as reinforced soon afterwards by Hertford Town Council and East Herts Council, caused the County Council to ‘pause’ its bypass proposal – and also to strengthen its interest in a possible Mass Rapid Transit system, by way of a possible public transport alternative to east-west car traffic on the A414.

We will have to wait and see what happens next, though Herford Civic Society is strongly in favour of the Mass Rapid Transit option, particularly if it is some kind of tram or light railway.

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