Closing the gaps on the A419 – Letter from Peter Colmer, Wiltshire Councillor

 COPY OF A COMMUNICATION SENT TO ALL RELEVANT AGENCIES

The accident on the A419 in the vicinity of the Castle Eaton junction on 20th. February 2011, in which there was a fatality to a resident in my ward is yet another serious accident on this stretch of road, this follows a fatality in January 2010. Whilst it is appreciated, the latest incident is still under investigation, it is clear from seeing the scene that it could have been significantly worse in terms of fatalities.

The Highways Agency some time ago now started on a consultation programme ( I attended at Blundson House Hotel) with regard to changes to the cross over arrangements with regard to this stretch of road, which for some reason was terminated, because of ‘local opposition’. My assumption being that the cost of the infrastructure to service affected residents and businesses was in Highways Agency view excessive.

This stretch of the A419 from Blundson to Cricklade, is the only element that allows vehicular crossing on the whole stretch from the M4 junction 15 to its end at Birdlip where it goes into single carriage way. The Highways Agency has just published a traffic order proposal to restrict vehicles to do U-turns on 3 gaps along the stretch of road in question. There are a number of reasons why vehicles currently do U-turns, going south from Cirencester, to access the Esso petrol station and north from Blunsdon as the signage to Swindon centre is inadequate and misleading. Simply by prohibiting U-turns on this stretch of road albeit a welcome step in some respects will not make this stretch of road as safe as it should be. Heavy Goods vehicles, school buses and private cars will still be turning across the A419 at various points.

The main recommendation by the police and supported by the coroner’s a result of the fatality in January 2010 was to close the gaps on the this stretch of road, which has been rebutted by the Highways Agency on cost grounds! The estimated cost associated with a road traffic accident fatality to the tax payer is circa £1.75 million. Therefore, the 2 fatalities in the space of 13 months has an estimated cost of £3.5 million.

 In summary, as the Unitary Councillor for part of the area in question, I would strongly recommend the following;

1) The recommendations made by the police and supported by the coroner as a result of the January 2010 fatality are implemented in a timely fashion.

 2) To also include the installation of central reservation crash barriers to stop vehicles crossing over to the opposite carriageway.

 3) To improve the junction of the A419 at Castle Eaton with an improved access for the cottages on the corner of the junction.

 4) To provide an alternative access to the A419 to the businesses and private dwellings that will be affected by the closure of the gaps. ( this can come after points 1,2 & 3 are implemented,) yes there will be an impact whilst this recommendation is being consulted on, designed and implemented, but a small price to pay if it saves lives.

 Peter Colmer

Wiltshire Councillor,

Cricklade, Latton & Marston Meysey.

Tel;01793-750245 (home), 07720-387708(mobile

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