Saturday, April 28, 2007

Time for a by-pass for UK's longest village...?

So, another tragedy on the A16 involving another student at Deepings School.

I'm sure everyone's thoughts are with the family of 18-year-old Katy Shields who's life, from all accounts, seemed so full of promise.

It would appear that Katie was driving her Corsa car at Hop Pole possibly intending to turn right when she was involved in a collision with a Grand Cherokee vehicle.

Of course, none of us know the full detail yet of what happened, so we are
not in a position to make judgements.

But we can all agree that problems of the straight fen-road through what is maybe the longest village in Britain need further attention.

Clearly, the length and nature of the road makes improving safety through engineering solutions challenging to say the least.

Personally, I have always believed that more serious consideration should have been given to the alternative option to the A1073 relief road.

The alternative would have have provided the added bonus of a 'free' bypass
for Deeping St Nic, hopefully taking away the fast moving through traffic -
but that option was rejected by the county council on cost grounds.

I beliieve the St Nic option would have required two bridges and from memory, the
projected cost - at the time - was a couple of million more than the Crowland option.

The irony is that the costs for the preferred option have virtually doubled
and the county council appears to be committed to what is now by far the
more expensive option (though the detailed engineering work on the Deeping
St Nic option was never completed, so we may never know).

Is it really too late for the county council to take another look?

I hope not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I admit to being involved with the Highways Agency's engineering work to reinforce the 50mph speed limit some years ago. This was addressed via road markings and signs. It's therefore extremely saddening to hear of this tragic death but I would question the safety benefits offered by a bypass. Such a proposal would certainly reduce through traffic (at least in the short- to medium-term) but not address the physical nature of the A16 itself through Deeping St Nicholas. Road users who consistently break the law would be unlikely to be deterred by the existence of a bypass: the A16 may still remain the most direct route to some, and in fact become more of a "straight run" as a result of reduced vehicle numbers. The use of enforcement cameras may assist deterrence but such measures are always susceptible to vandalism by determined individuals. Frankly, this road is unfortunately too straight and I doubt that visibility at its junctions meets current standards for new roads. Additionally, intervisibility to oncoming vehicles is inappropriate to a low speed limit.

I therefore propose that local activists campaign for deviations in horizontal alignment to be seriously investigated by engineers. This could be achieved by local landowners sacrificing small portions of land to allow a series of tight bends to be constructed (with no "racing lines" available via any included vehicle overrun areas). Forward visibility would also require minimising and I would suggest the inclusion of tall bushes/trees at such points (using temporary fences as screens until vegetation becomes established). Such features would contribute to the natural enforcement of a lower mandatory speed limit, although street lighting and chevrons would also require consideration. In areas affording less available land but more potential for pedestrian movements, the straight carriageway could be narrowed to 5.5m, with a corresponding increase in space available to pedestrians.

The encouragement of pedestrians and cyclists to use the road is necessary and could be achieved by the Council’s promotion of local shops, businesses, playgrounds and community facilities. It may then be appropriate to include pedestrian crossing points with raised "tabletop" features in such areas. Although further detailed information is absent (e.g. vehicle counts and speed data), I would respectfully suggest that the above would be a more cost effective and agreeable solution than a bypass. While my proposals may not significantly reduce vehicle numbers, they would certainly reduce speeds. It is my opinion that the above proposals require consideration as a matter of urgency, in order to increase safety for all road users.

Trevor, Bristol