CAMPAIGNERS calling for the layout of a confusing, and potentially dangerous, interchange to be improved have suffered a setback after the Highways Agency refused to heed a local MP’s concerns.
Sir George Young, North East Hampshire MP, wrote to the Highways Agency after meeting campaigners at the Tufton Interchange and witnessing a car driving the wrong way along the road.
Campaigners believe the A34 slip-road at the interchange, heading north into Whitchurch, is a hot-spot for accidents and near-misses because the layout is confusing and results in drivers going the wrong way.
Sir George agreed with their concerns, and told The Gazette: “I did see a number of cars on the wrong side of the road coming off the northbound slip-way. If there had been anything coming the other way, it could have been quite serious.”
The MP said the range of cost-saving solutions suggested by the campaigners, including putting physical barriers along the hatchings, would make it clearer that the road is two-way.
Sir George wrote to the Highways Agency putting forward the case on behalf of the campaigners.
But Beata Ginn, assistant asset manager, has now responded to Sir George to say the Highways Agency would not install the suggested safety measures.
She said: “Any improvement schemes would require a robust business case supported by convincing evidence. This is because we need to be satisfied that such improvement would deliver a safety benefit to the travelling public rather than an additional risk.”
She added a safety study, conducted in June 2013, took account of accident data over 10 years and concluded that “remedial measures would not have reduced any of the recorded personal injury collisions that have occurred on the slip-road during the last 10 years as these were attributed to driver error and to the loss of control.
“It also concluded that future remedial works may alleviate the anecdotal problem of vehicles heading the wrong way up the slip-road but such improvements would not score positively because of lack of evidence based benefits.”
Mike Stead, of Newbury Street, Whitchurch, who has led the campaign, said: “Despite a peer of the realm witnessing first-hand what locals have said happens all the time (cars coming off the slip-road, veering head-on into the path of oncoming traffic, or turning right up the southbound slip-road), such things are ‘anecdotes’, and work to prevent them wouldn’t ‘score positively’.
“Sir George has written to Mrs Ginn asking her to visit the site. I doubt very much that she or any of her colleagues would want to meet locals.”
The 40-year-old father-of-three, who is an IT consultant, said campaigners do not know what to do next, adding: “Should we build our own barricades over the hatching to prevent this sort of driving? One option is to set up a video camera to capture the various types of dangerous driving.”