Tue, 06 Oct 2020
NEWBURY MP Laura Farris has asked Highways England whether further safety upgrades to a “dangerous” stretch of the A34 will be prioritised.
Improvements to the A34 have been listed in Highways England’s five-year delivery plan for 2020-2025, although no details have been provided.
The road has already had reduced speed limits introduced in certain stretches and new technology added last year.
CCTV cameras and driver information systems have been installed between the Chieveley/Newbury junction of the M4 and the M40.
Pressure fell on the Government to take action following two fatal crashes in West Berkshire in 2016.
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.
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 other drivers using mobile phones.
Nearly 150 people responded to a survey on Mrs Farris’ website on what upgrades they would like to see.
Mrs Farris said there had been a “high degree of overlap” in the responses and has asked Highways England to confirm whether these areas of concern will be prioritised.
In her letter last Tuesday Mrs Farris said that an overwhelming number of respondents were concerned about the safety of the junctions joining the A34 north and southbound at East Ilsley.
They added that slip roads on both sides were too short, particularly on the southbound junction, with numerous near-misses and accidents over the years.
Strong requests for longer slip roads were made, with respondents saying that the junctions were used by school buses carrying large numbers of children, “which underscores the imperative for making them safe”.
A blind spot at the northbound junction from East Ilsley joining the A34 was also raised and Mrs Farris said there were “several sensible requests” for a mini-roundabout to make the junction safer.
Other slip roads identified as short and hazardous were those on the A34 at Beedon, Speen and Wash Common.
Requests have also been made for longer lanes to join the A34 at these points.
Mrs Farris’ letter says that a number of respondents commented on issues with lorries and other HGVs on the road between Newbury and Wantage, particularly the hills around East Ilsley.
It said: “The contours of the road create blind spots which have lead to serious accidents and are exacerbated by cars travelling too fast when they cannot see the road ahead and lorries blocking the overtaking lane when they are not travelling at an appropriate speed.”
Respondents suggested a speed limit on the “dangerous” section of the road and/or creating a dedicated HGV lane.
Signing off her letter, Mrs Farris said: “I’m sure you will agree that the A34 has claimed too many lives and remains one of the most dangerous dual carriageways in England.
“I would be very grateful if you could consider these points and confirm that Highways England is aware of them, and will be taking appropriate steps to address the dangers.”