The Letchworth Gate junction of dysfunction

SIR - Following on from Keith Entwisle s letter about cars taking the wrong lane at the Letchworth Gate junction of the A1(M), and thus making things worse, there is another element of poor driving that makes the junction more dangerous which I have notic

SIR - Following on from Keith Entwisle's letter about cars taking the wrong lane at the Letchworth Gate junction of the A1(M), and thus making things worse, there is another element of poor driving that makes the junction more dangerous which I have noticed since I began to use it regularly a month or two ago.

Many, possibly most, cars turning left at this exit do not indicate their intention to do so. Perhaps because they are in the left hand lane at the traffic lights the drivers seem to assume that there is no need to indicate?

Whatever the reason, the result is that for cars joining from the slip road it is sheer guesswork as to whether a car on the main roundabout will turn off or not. On several occasions I have seen cars begin to pull out and then be faced with a car that was not indicating turning in front of them. It is small wonder that there are accidents as a result, but how any changes to a road layout can force drivers to signal correctly, I do not know.

JOHN BIRCH


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Lannock

Letchworth Garden City

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SIR - I would like to say that I do agree with the letter in last week's paper recommending prohibiting turning left from the Baldock and Royston lane off the A1 slip road into Letchworth.

People obeying the road signs have to take their life in their hands every time they try and turn left at this junction. I cannot understand why the Highways did not include the left hand turn on the traffic lights system having taken the trouble to install them. As a result, it is very difficult to exit from Baldock Lane from Willian into Letchworth Gate at busy times because there is a constant stream of on-coming traffic.

After all the mess they have created, I was appalled to read in The Comet a couple of weeks ago that one of the solutions might be to carve up even more precious land to make a dual-carriageway up to the longabout. In my opinion, it would be better (and cheaper) if they closed the left hand lane altogether and preserved what greenery the Highways have managed to leave intact.

MARY BROWN

Alban Road

Letchworth Garden City

SIR - With respect to Keith Entwisle's letter on the 'Death Trap Junction Farce'.

Making of the traffic light lanes no left turn would not make the junction on the filter lane any safer. There would still be the risk of traffic coming off of the island, legal or not. So when using the filter lane, drivers would still need to crane their necks to attempt to get a good view of any approaching traffic.

Clearly corners were cut when the road improvements were made, leaving us Letchworth residents with this novel road junction.

The junction on the filter lane needs to be made safe and easier for people to use. One wonders what it will take to make those responsible listen, and put their hands in their pockets. In the interim, those sensible road users who perceive the junction to be dangerous, opt for the safer route via the traffic lights. If we happen to get in front of Mr Entwisle, it is unintentional.

PAUL PARKER

Wilbury Hills Road

Letchworth Garden City

SIR - I write in response to your recent article and correspondence regarding Letchworth Gate junction.

There isn't, unfortunately, an easy answer, the site poses a number of engineering challenges - and for a variety of regulatory and safety reasons, it's a tricky one to meet everyone's objectives.

The idea of using 'no left-turn' signs, as suggested by one of your readers, is something we have been investigating. We are still pursuing the possibility of a left-turn ban, but we need approval from the Highways Agency (the national body responsible for maintaining the UK's motorways) and this is something that will take further negotiation as there are some safety concerns.

At the same time, we are also investigating long-term capacity issues including the feasibility and suitability of creating a dual carriageway along Letchworth Gate connecting into the junction.

There is another side to the issue, though, that I would like to raise. In the three years before the improvements were made to Letchworth Gate, there were 28 accidents that resulted in injuries on the northbound slip road. Six of these injuries were serious. In the year following the introduction of the new road layout, there was a dramatic reduction in accidents with only three accidents that resulted in injuries, none of which were serious.

Queuing, too, has reduced. Prior to the alterations, delays of 10 to 15 minutes were commonplace during rush hour at this junction. Now the average queuing times have been substantially reduced to just one to two minutes.

We are working hard to find a solution which addresses people's concerns while maintaining current safety standards and keeping the traffic moving. We will let your readers know of any developments. A report about the dual carriageway will be heard in the autumn.

County Councillor

STUART PILE

Executive Member for Highways

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