Residents air concerns over Hitchin junction changes

Cars queue as they try to get out of Charlton Road. Picture by Keith Dobney.

Cars queue as they try to get out of Charlton Road. Picture by Keith Dobney. - Credit: Archant

Work to modify the junction layout at an accident blackspot is due to start on Monday but nearby residents claim their feedback has “fallen on deaf ears”.

Last September the Comet reported that a high number of accidents on Charlton Road, at the junction with A602 Parkway, in Hitchin had passed a set threshold for collisions over a three-year period up to December 2012.

As a result, Hertfordshire County Council (HHC) will close Charlton Road and Willow Lane on Monday to carry out ‘casualty reduction’ work at the junction, which will involve making alterations to the existing junction layout so that motorists cannot turn right from the A602 into Charlton Road. The work is expected to take four weeks.

But residents have said the alteration will create problems elsewhere.

Resident John Pearce, who lives in Charlton village, said: “It appears our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. The closure will, in my view, result in serious traffic congestion around Park Way and a huge increase in traffic through Charlton village and the Willows estate, both areas not equipped to deal with such traffic levels. My suggestion was to have a mini roundabout at the junction of Charlton Road and Parkway, but this was totally dismissed.

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“I wonder if HCC have really thought through the benefits of making this change with potential for future traffic chaos and whether perhaps a more intensive period of consultation is required before spending what must be a significant amount of taxpayers’ money.”

A resident in London Road, Hitchin, who asked to remain anonymous, echoed Mr Pearce’s comments and said the changes would make very little difference to traffic congestion and a roundabout would have been more appropriate.

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A spokesman for HCC said: “A large percentage of the recorded injury accidents at this junction involved collisions between vehicles travelling towards Stevenage, making the right turn manoeuvre into Charlton Road and vehicles travelling towards Hitchin on Parkway.

“A number of different proposals were considered for the junction, including traffic signals or a roundabout, however these were not chosen as the preferred option as there were a number of concerns with adopting these approaches.

“Some objections to the proposed right turn ban were received and these objections were carefully considered. We understand the residents have concerns, but on balance the introduction of the right turn ban has been promoted as part of a casualty reduction scheme to improve the safety of the junction.”

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