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Scheme tackling safety and congestion on A34 launched

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Plans to improve safety and reduce congestion on the A34 are afoot.

National Highways has launched the A34 improvements project, which will explore opportunities to relieve traffic congestion and make it safer for drivers on the road between the M40 and the M4 junctions.

The project is still in its early stages, with the immediate focus on understanding how the A34 and local roads interact so it can explore potential improvements.

There have been a number of fatalities on the A34 in recent years.
There have been a number of fatalities on the A34 in recent years.

West Berkshire residents will be hoping that the improvements include work on the A34 junctions near East Ilsley, which have long been a hotspot for traffic accidents.

This is due to the relatively short slip roads, which are also on gradients and on a bend in the road, obscuring views of the traffic.

Earlier this year, Newbury MP Laura Farris called for National Highways – then called Highways England – to prioritise safety upgrades to the “dangerous” stretch of the A34 near East Ilsley.

Nearly 150 people responded to a survey on Mrs Farris’ website on what upgrades they would like to see, and she said that an overwhelming number of respondents were concerned about the safety of the junctions joining the A34 north and southbound at the West Berkshire village.

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 and requests have also been made for longer lanes to join the A34 at these points.

Mrs Farris’ letter to Highways England said 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.

There have been a number of fatalities on the A34 in recent years.

In 2016, Tracy Houghton, her two sons Ethan and Josh, and her partner’s daughter Aimee Goldsmith were killed when a lorry ploughed into stationary traffic at 50mph, and in June of that year Gavin Roberts died in a collision.

Both crashes were caused by drivers using mobile phones while driving.

Earlier this year, a man from Dorset died following a collision on the A34 near Beedon, while Tadley man Oli Williams died in a single vehicle crash on the road in October 2020.

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