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Challenge(s) this policy will address:

  • 1.1 Keep the county moving.
  • 1.2 Support economic growth.

Public surveys suggest that traffic congestion is considered a significant problem in Hertfordshire. Traffic delays, often made worse as a result of collisions, and the uncertainty as to the time any journey might take, are a major concern to local businesses and to bus, coach and freight operators and can badly affect the economy of the county.

Congested traffic results in higher levels of emissions compared with free flowing traffic. This further increases transport’s contribution to climate change and reduces local air quality creating air quality problems in congested areas. Congestion can also impact on the environmental character of an area, and deter people from walking and cycling there, and can lead to rat-running on less suitable roads, with all its attendant safety and environmental problems.

Traffic congestion therefore has an adverse impact on all road users but the car is still expected to be the dominant mode of transport in the county and in the country throughout the life of this plan. Congestion will be inevitable where the road capacity is insufficient to meet demands and drivers are willing to accept the resulting delays.

It is the county’s policy to reduce the need to travel and promote the use of sustainable modes of transport, alongside road user education, training and publicity initiatives. These aim to address this issue while efficient management of the network minimises the local effects.

The county council will identify user priorities on routes across the highway network and seek to:

  • Manage, and where feasible reduce, traffic in congested areas and on congested routes particularly in peak periods.

  • Improve traffic flows and minimise the adverse environmental effects of congestion by using intelligent transport systems, traffic management and small scale interventions.

  • Minimise the effects of road congestion on passenger transport services by introducing bus priority measures.

  • Promote walking and cycling in peak periods by improving the environment for these modes in congested areas.

Managing congestion is a part of the efficient management of the network which underlies all of the county’s work as Highway Authority. Information technology and small scale interventions can help address particular problem areas but in the longer term solutions depend on limiting the growth in demand in the peak periods by changing people’s attitude to the car and increasing the proportion of journeys by modes other than the car. Improving the travelling environment for these modes, the safety, security, ambience, air quality and so on is therefore an important part of the county’s policies.

Congestion and stop-start driving conditions (rolling queues) also have particular impacts on local air quality. Congested traffic can lead pollution levels requiring the declaration of a locality as an Air Quality Management Area (see section 3.18).

Promoting buses, cycling and walking and other sustainable modes (e.g. car sharing) requires interventions that make journeys by those modes quicker, more comfortable practical and safer (or at least perceived as being safer by the user). These interventions will normally be considered as part of an Urban Transport Plan so the priorities and potential conflicts with maintaining free flowing traffic can be fully assessed.

For congested routes between urban areas the council intends to adopt corridor strategies. These are strategies for important routes aimed at making the fullest use of available capacity. In the initial strategies the authority will concentrate on those routes linking the major urban areas defined as the key centres for development and change (KCDCs). These strategies will build on the findings of studies carried out in the region in 2010 (DaSTS) studies). Road traffic originating in rural areas also contributes to congestion, and the Rural Strategy will seek to address appropriate issues associated with this.

More controversial measures such as road pricing or limited car parking may need to be considered in the future but are not part of the present LTP policies.


DaSTS (Developing a Sustainable Transport System): Department for Transport, 2008.

This document was last updated in April 2011. (Version 1.0).