After more than 10 years of talk and delays, it is hard to believe that the underpass or “tunnel” linking Blenheim Road to Stones Road and Miles Road under the railway line will ever be re-opened. However it has now been announced that the final phase of the work will start on 3 October.
Following the access problems and related funding issues last year, the Engineers once again had to wait until the end of the breeding season for the Great Crested Newts. They then installed fresh newt-proof fencing and did a thorough search to ensure that all newts had been safely removed to the pond in the SSSI area and were unable to return to that part of site where they might be in harm’s way.
This is why for so long during the summer, it seemed that nothing was happening. Finally in August the county council were again able to invite tenders – all public-funded work has to tendered for by law.
At the September meeting of SCC’s Local Committee for Epsom & Ewell it was reported that tenders had been invited and a contract was due to be let by the end of September. The work has to be complete by the end of the year, because by then the public footpath (which is a statutory right of way) will have been closed for the maximum legally allowable time.
It has been a dreadful inconvenience to many people, cyclists, school-children, their parents and people walking to work. The actual Engineer in charge of the work is very disappointed by what has happened and the inconvenience caused to so many people. However he was bound by the council’s very strict budgetary control rules, designed to prevent runaway costs.
Personally I think SCC as a Conservative-controlled organisation gets its priorities wrong and should take more account of the wishes and convenience of residents.
Along with hundreds of local residents who wish to use this route, I am now looking forward to the promised completion of the work, hopefully before the end of the year – however after waiting for so long, I don’t think I will believe it until I can actually use it.