I hope a change of direction gets us somewhere

REMEMBER when you were a kid and delighted in getting out the box of Dinky cars and setting out your very own road layout on the living room carpet? Well, it s looking a little like a scene from Toytown this week on the slip road coming off the A1(M) at L

REMEMBER when you were a kid and delighted in getting out the box of Dinky cars and setting out your very own road layout on the living room carpet?

Well, it's looking a little like a scene from Toytown this week on the slip road coming off the A1(M) at Letchworth Gate.

As a few motorists know to their cost and many know through their aching necks and backs twisted round to a near unnatural degree, the filter lane off the slip road installed as part of the "improvements" to the motorway junction has been a bit of a disaster.

This spur is designed to give easy access to the road leading into the garden city without the need to go onto the roundabout but there have been many complaints that it is impossible to see what is coming from the right without turning almost halfway round in one's seat and craning one's neck like a contortionist.


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The reasoning behind this initiative was that all traffic coming off the motorway and not going into Letchworth would stay on the existing slip road to turn right.

And traffic lights would ensure that the Letchworth-only vehicles would be able to emerge safely onto Letchworth Gate and proceed on their way.

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No doubt this was all worked out very nicely on paper, but in practice....

Local drivers realising that it was a real problem exiting the spur road have been using their own initiative.

They have been avoiding the filter lane and going up to the roundabout and then turning left. I saw an ambulance doing just that the other day.

When they are stopped by the traffic lights, vehicles coming from the Baldock side of the roundabout have the green light so the poor Letchworth-bound saps who have taken the filter are caught in a double whammy of traffic bearing down on them menacingly.

From the introduction of the new scheme a few months ago, it was obvious to all but the planners it seems that the angle of the infamous filter lane onto Letchworth Gate was wrong.

As the complaints mounted up, they said they would take a look at it but, for some mystery reason, not until April.

So here we are in the showery month and, true to their word, they have sprung into action.

As an experiment, they have created what looks like an obstacle course with cones snaking up the filter lane.

The end result is that vehicles are being guided into a much better angle to chance entry onto Letchworth Gate, considerably reducing the risk to life and limb.

Now why could the experts not have built the new road like that in the first place?

By the way, this road reshaping trial is due to go on all week and it is being monitored on video.

So may I suggest to those brave souls who do venture onto the filter lane route that they give a big smile and a thumbs-up as they wait at the top for a gap in the traffic to proceed on their journey.

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