No plans for A1(M) Letchworth Gate junction despite accident blackspot fears

The filter road off the A1(M) northbound at Letchworth Gate

The filter road off the A1(M) northbound at Letchworth Gate - Credit: Daniel Wilson

A junction deemed to be an accident blackspot for years by Comet readers is considered safe, according to statistics.

The Letchworth Gate junction – the left turning into Letchworth GC after exiting the A1(M) junction 9 going northbound – has been widely criticised by drivers.

Police also called it “flawed” in a report in 2011, but Herts County Council (HCC) has said the junction has not had a high frequency of personal injury collisions reported.

According to the council, there were seven recorded accidents at the junction between June 2010 and May 2013.

The Comet reported earlier this month that Charlton Road, at the junction with A602 Parkway in Hitchin, had eight recorded incidents between December 2009 and 2012 – passing a set threshold and forcing the council to take action under its casualty reduction measures programme.

Letchworth GC town centre manager Lee Boswell said: “You always hear of people saying there have been lots of accidents, but I guess these figures are ones that have been reported to the police. I imagine there are plenty of shunts that don’t get reported.

“I don’t think anyone thinks the junction has been designed particularly well, although it seems to have reduced the congestion.

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“The problem is still with people having to crane their necks and other drivers coming up from the A1(M) and trying to beat the queue by not using the slip road and then turning left. They need to enforce the no-left-turn.

“I am not surprised by these figures, but I think for every major accident there must be 10 or 20 minor ones.”

Oliver Heald, MP for North East Herts, said: “I have recently taken this up with transport minister Stephen Hammond, and have also taken it up with Herts County Council’s highways department. I have asked them to check with insurance companies. It has been suggested from an insurance company source there have been quite a few accidents here. I am now waiting for a response.

“I still feel the configuration is very difficult for motorists and it needs looking at again.”

HCC has said that, in conjunction with the Highways Agency, significant changes to the layout of the junction have been made, including anti-skid surfacing.

Terry Douris, HCC’s Cabinet member for highways, said: “In the three years before the improvements were made to Letchworth Gate, there were 28 accidents that resulted in injuries – six of them serious – on the northbound slip road. In the last three years there have been seven.

“We’re confident the changes to the junction layout that we made in 2006 and 2008 have dramatically improved safety. At the current time we have no plans to make any further changes.”

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