Fix the junction before it kills

Re Letchworth Gate junction. I am so pleased that The Comet through articles and the letters page, continues to highlight this important local issue. I raised this matter at the Letchworth Garden City Council meeting on January 3, when after discussion th

Re Letchworth Gate junction. I am so pleased that The Comet through articles and the letters page, continues to highlight this important local issue.

I raised this matter at the Letchworth Garden City Council meeting on January 3, when after discussion the council agreed to officially write to the Highways Authority expressing its concerns about this new road junction and the well documented difficulties and potential dangers for users.

If one takes the time to observe this junction as I have, one will see that regular users now no longer use the nearside slip road if turning towards Letchworth but now take the offside slip road, and then turn left safely towards the town when the traffic lights allow.

Surely this practice, the number of damage-only accidents reported at this point and the mountain of complaints from local motorists should leave little doubt that this road configuration needs changing as a matter of urgency and without bureaucratic delay.

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CHRIS HARLOW, Vice Chairman, Letchworth Garden City Council

* The first time I used the new filter lane off the A1(M) at Letchworth Gate, I could see there was a serious problem with safety. The so-called professional engineer who designed this lay-out must either be a contortionist, or else his professional qualifications need to be closely scrutinised.

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Surely someone must have checked that it met the required safety standards. This may be a residual problem for Hertfordshire Highways but for the poor motorist risking a crick in the neck to see if it is safe to proceed, it could be a very expensive accident.

ROGER PAXTON, St Michaels Road, Hitchin.

* I was disappointed to read "We got it wrong" (The Comet, January 18). In fact Hertfordshire Highways has not got it wrong at all. The prime objectives of the Letchworth Gate scheme were to improve safety on the slip road by reducing queues for traffic joining and leaving the A1(M), and to accommodate the extra bypass traffic.

Before we made these improvements, there had been 54 accidents in which people were injured at the junction in five years, with 19 of them occurring at the top of the northbound slip road. This information was relayed to Cllr Levett in an email, most of which appeared in your article. I was dismayed to note that this vital information about accidents at the junction had not been included.

As with any new layout, it takes time for drivers to adjust, and there have been some minor accidents. However, no-one has been injured, and queuing times have reduced to as little as one to two minutes.

As you can see, the statistics speak for themselves. There has been a long standing accident history at this junction, and while some drivers are taking time to adjust to the new layout, our overriding aim of reducing accidents has been achieved.

We are currently awaiting the results of the final stage safety audit. Once we have those results, and feedback from the Highways Agency, the police and our own engineers, we can make a decision as to whether any further improvements to the layout should be made.

The Highways Agency is starting a major resurfacing scheme between junctions eight and nine on January 26, which will last for eight weeks.

In order to minimise congestion and disruption to motorists, they have asked that we remove all traffic management from Junction 9 and the gyratory during this time. Therefore, if any remedial works are identified, they would not take place before the end of March 2007.

County Cllr STUART PILE, Executive Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs

* I write with utter disbelief at the level of intelligence of the transport planner responsible, for the new improved A1(M) roundabout in Letchworth.

Is the transport planner in question an owl? I am sure it is fine as his neck probably does rotate 190 degrees, but for us, the normal folk of Letchworth, this is the most ridiculous improvement we have ever seen.

I have had two near misses, both leaving the new part of the junction and coming round past the junction, where cars just pull out, as they just cannot see.

I now stay on the A1(M) to the next junction (Baldock) and drive through the town to get to my house, it puts time/distance on my journey, but at least I know I am not going to crash, or have someone crash in to me. Mark my words, although I am sure this improvement has wasted millions to implement, in a very short period of time, it will also cost lives.

This has to be changed or put back as it was.

CHRIS BUCKLEY, The Grange, Letchworth GC

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