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A34 safety review nearing completion

One year after fatal collisions, plans for a £50m upgrade are taking shape

A34 safety review nearing completion

SAFETY improvements on the A34 are closer to being implemented, one year on from a horrific crash that killed a family of four. 

Tracy Houghton, 45, her two sons Ethan and Josh, 13 and 11, and her partner’s daughter Aimee Goldsmith, 11, were killed when a lorry ploughed into stationary traffic at 50mph.

The driver of the lorry, Tomasz Kroker, had been changing music on his mobile phone at the time of the crash.

He was sentenced to 10 years for each count of death by dangerous driving, to run concurrently. 

Kroker was also sentenced to four years for the count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, also to run concurrently, and disqualified from driving for a minimum of five years. 

Five other people were injured in the eight-vehicle collision between the East Ilsley and West Ilsley junctions on August 10, 2016. 

The crash followed another death on the A34 in West Berkshire in June 2016.

Lewis Stratford had been on his mobile phone when his car crashed through the central reservation and collided head on with Gavin Roberts’ vehicle. 

Mr Roberts, 28, died from his injuries four days later.

Stratford pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for three years and eight months.

The A34 Action Group was set up in the wake of the collisions, with Didcot and Wantage MP Ed Vaizey securing a commitment from the roads minister to commission a safety review.

Highways England presented a first draft of its safety review of the A34 in April this year.

The review said that, while the A34 was statistically no more dangerous than other roads, safety issues on the stretch by East Ilsley were highlighted.

The report recognised the huge economic impact caused by hold-ups and collisions, given the increasing importance of the road as a major north-south transport link.

Newbury MP Richard Benyon said: “Huge strides have been taken towards a proper joined-up solution to the problems of this road.”

The chancellor confirmed in November that £50m from the Road Investment Strategy would be allocated to the A34.

The pot will be split, with £25m allocated for A34 ‘technology enhancement’ – vehicle detection loops, CCTV cameras and driver information systems – between the M4 and the M40.

The remaining £25m will be spent on improvements previously agreed to the Peartree and Botley junctions at Oxford.

This was followed by confirmation of funding for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

Mr Benyon said: “This scheme is recognised as offering the long-term solution to the problems of the A34 and bringing this forward is really good news.

“Works will start from Junction 13 of the M4 and will include upgrading the A34 to the north of this.”

MPs are due to meet with Highways England to discuss the proposals in the coming weeks.

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