Thu, 26 Oct 2017
MEASURES to improve safety on the A34, the scene of horrific crashes through West Berkshire in recent years, have been announced.
Longer exit and entry roads, better lay-bys, improved signage and a crawler lane at East Ilsley have been identified as ways to improve safety on the road.
Highways England’s A34 Safety Review looked at six areas between the M4 and the M40 to see whether accidents were being caused by the design of the road.
It identified a list of specific issues, which included length and design of merging junctions, spacing and layout of lay-bys, overgrown vegetation, gradient of Gore Hill (East Ilsley) and insufficient signage.
The proposals follow pressure from campaigners and local MPs, after a number of deaths and crashes on the busy road.
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 in August last year.
Five other people were injured in the eight-vehicle collision between the East Ilsley and West Ilsley junctions.
The tragedy followed the death of Gavin Roberts, 28, on the same stretch of road in June that year.
Both crashes were caused by drivers using mobile phones while driving.
Highways England’s latest recommendations were published in Westminster yesterday (Wednesday).
Newbury MP Richard Benyon said: “I am really pleased that Highways England has recognised the seriousness of the problem on the A34 and has made such sensible and comprehensive recommendations.
“It’s particularly good to see that these include reconfiguration of the north-bound junction at East Ilsley with the possibility of a crawler lane at this point.
“With better signage to enforce the HGV ban in the outside lane on Gore Hill, plus innovative Vehicle Activated Signs, this would make a real difference to safety on this section of the road.
“This is a great step forward, but the fight is not over. Along with other stakeholders, we will now be lobbying the Department for Transport to take action as soon as possible to implement these proposals.”
Following calls for action from campaigners who formed the A34 Action Group, Highways England presented a first draft of its safety review 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.