WORKERS are racing against the clock to create a bus lane in time for the opening of Colchester’s longawaited park and ride scheme.

The scheme has been in the pipeline for more than a decade, but now an army of contractors is franticallyworking overnight to get the crucial new bus lane completed in time.

Essex County Council has been working on the town centre- bound bus lane at Colchester North Station since January.

This week, without warning, the council closed Station Way in both directions from 8.30pm through to 5am.

The closure is set to end at 5am on Monday – just two hours before the first buses are due to leave the park and ride facility at Cuckoo Farm.

The park and ride has been described as vital to relieve Colchester’s chronic traffic congestion.

It is hoped drivers will favour buses because they can travel quickly via the bus lanes into the town centre.

Martin Goss, Colchester councillor for Mile End, said: “Rodney Bass, Essex county councillor for highways, has to make sure this is delivered on time.

“The fact they have evoked a traffic order less than a week before the park and ride is due to open just smacks of total incompetence.”

Mr Goss said a gang of 30 workmen were at the site between 9am and 2.45pm on week days, as they had been since January, as well as the extra night shift.

He said “I am sure drafting in men to finish it is going to cost more money. Workers at night are going to be getting double time or an increased salary.

“The tarmac will barely be dry on Monday.

“We suggested to EssexCounty Council at least three times why didn’t they do this work overnight in the first place to minimise disruption.

“It has caused carnage with all the cars backing up on to Asda and Turner Rise. Now, they are doing that because they have to because they are so badly behind schedule.”

Motorists will be sent on diversions via the Northern Approach Road, Mill Road, Severalls Lane, Ipswich Road, Cowdray Avenue, Colne Bank Avenue and Westway while the road is closed.

The Gazette asked the county council if the night work was needed to meet the deadline, and if workers were being paid more to work overnight. We also asked what would happen if they do not built the bus lane in time.

A county council spokesman said: “The park and ride will open, as planned, at 7am on Monday.

“Night closures for works on Station Way have always been part of the works programme and will be complete before 7am on Monday.”