Action to be taken over ‘accident hotspot’ Hitchin junction

Cars queue as they try to get out of Charlton Road

Cars queue as they try to get out of Charlton Road - Credit: Archant

A HIGH number of car collisions at an accident hotspot has forced a council to take action – but there are fears its proposed measures will create problems elsewhere.

“Rat run” Charlton Road, at the junction with A602 Parkway, in Hitchin, has passed a set threshold for collisions within the past three years.

Between December 2009 and 2012, there were eight accidents at the junction which resulted in injury – and more which were damage only.

Herts County Council (HCC) must look at ways to reduce this figure, under its casualty reduction measures programme, and has made a traffic order banning people turning right from the A602 into Charlton Road.

Five objections have been made to the authority, and there are fears the order will just create problems elsewhere.

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Many people use Charlton Road as a cut-through to the A505, which heads towards Luton and the M1.

Charlton resident Mark Dommett, who has officially objected to the proposals, said: “It’s already used as a rat run.

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“This will make it harder to exit and may see an increase in rash decisions by exiting vehicles.

“People (will) avoid the junction and seek alternate routes – either by utilising the estate north of Charlton Road/Willow Lane, or by re-routing via the narrow lanes of Charlton/Gosmore.

“If this proposal goes through the traffic build up would be further increased and the pressure on alternate routes would increase exponentially – with the attendant risk to surrounding residential areas.”

As objections have been received, HCC will have to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding whether to proceed with the order.

It is expected a decision will be reached over the coming months.

County councillor Derrick Ashley, who represents Hitchin South, said he would have preferred a roundabout at the junction but has been told it is not possible.

He warned planners would need to be careful to ensure problems were not caused in other areas.

He said: “I want to improve safety at the junction, and this is a proposal that proposes safety at the junction, but it needs to be considered whether it imposes problems elsewhere.

“There’s no doubt about it – there are safety problems at that junction.”

HCC has labelled the proposals “necessary” to prevent further accidents.

In its traffic order, it says it has the backing of police and county councillors.

It adds: “It appears to the Highway Authority that it is necessary and expedient to make the order in the interests of highway safety for avoiding danger to persons or other traffic using the road and for preventing the likelihood of such danger arising.”

The Comet asked how many collisions there were at the site in total, including damage only, but the figures were not available.

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