CHANGES to a busy junction aimed at easing traffic congestion and improving access to a health centre will take affect from next month.
Hartlepool Borough Council is looking to reconfigure the Park Road and York Road junction in a bid to help motorists accessing the One Life Hartlepool centre.
Concerns were raised around the access problems at the centre, which is in Park Road, at a previous meeting of the audit and governance committee at the council.
Transport officers have considered a number of options.
Alastair Smith, the council’s assistant director of neighbourhoods, said it is planned to introduce changes to the way traffic uses the adjacent York Road and Park Road junction from March.
At the moment, traffic heading west along Park Road towards this junction is allocated as left turning and straight ahead traffic using the left hand lane, and the right-hand lane being left for buses and taxis only.
But no buses use the route therefore alterations to the road markings - at a cost of £500 - will see the left-hand lane used by left turning traffic only, with the right-hand lane used by vehicles travelling straight ahead.
Mr Smith said: “This will considerably shorten the queues currently experienced by all traffic having to use one lane, and lead to much improved traffic flows through the junction.”
The improvements were initially approved by the council back in March last year but they were delayed while work was carried out to other roads nearby.
Once the changes have been made, transport chiefs say they will have to be monitored for at least six-months.
Labour councillor Jim Ainslie said: “This is the most practicable solution and I look forward to it being implemented.”
Officers had also looked at the possibility of installing a right-turn lane into the One Life Centre for traffic approaching from the west - from the York Road direction.
The vast majority of traffic on this approach either turns left into the shopping centre car parks, or continues down towards the A689.
But officers say to introduce a right-hand turn they would need to widen the road to a three-lane approach using part of the Roker Street car park, in order to avoid traffic backing up.
That has been investigated and would cost anywhere up to £200,000, for which there is no budget and it would also mean the loss of 20 car parking spaces which would result in a loss of revenue to the council.
Independent councillor Keith Fisher, chairman of the committee, said the loss of car parking space and revenue and cost of a right-hand turn was a “non-runner” in his view.
He thanked the officers for their work.
Mr Smith said issues had also been raised relating to the green man phase at the traffic signals near the One Life Centre, and the length of crossing time given - but investigations showed there is sufficient time provided for pedestrians.
Extending the green man phase further would lengthen the overall signals cycle, increasing congestion at the junction, said Mr Smith.