We got it wrong

RESULTS from a safety audit may mean improvements have to be made to a junction deemed to be an accident blackspot by many drivers. The newly created filter lane, connecting junction nine of the A1(M) with Letchworth Gate, is part of a roadworks scheme th

RESULTS from a safety audit may mean improvements have to be made to a junction deemed to be an accident blackspot by many drivers.

The newly created filter lane, connecting junction nine of the A1(M) with Letchworth Gate, is part of a roadworks scheme that cost an estimated £1m.

But it has been engineered in such a way that drivers have to swivel considerably in their seats at the lane's junction, in order to see oncoming traffic from the busy Letchworth Gate roundabout.

Councillor for Letchworth South East, David Levett, wrote to Hertfordshire Highways to express his concerns about the dangers of the junction after he was contacted by a number of his constituents.


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Cllr Levett told The Comet: "I have been concerned since they first opened that junction.

"You need to be looking right the way back over your shoulder to see.

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"I have had quite a number of constituents telling me about it.

"I have also seen a number of accidents there but they are damage-only accidents and so they don't need reporting.

"I think Hertfordshire Highways needs to do a safety review and I personally think the junction needs changing."

In an emailed response to Cllr Levett's letter, a spokesman for Hertfordshire Highways wrote: "The layout was designed and safety audited in accordance with standards only recently set by the Highways Agency, and so it will be novel to most drivers.

"In order to give safety benefits to the motorway and reduce traffic delays the dedicated slip road was opened as soon as it could be - in advance of the traffic signals controlling the vehicles on the circulatory carriageway.

"The signals are now working and, with the westbound traffic on the roundabout stopped, this provides the opportunity for the traffic exiting the dedicated lane to enter Letchworth Gate more easily.

"We are pleased that the primary objectives of the scheme have been met. The delays are as little as one to two minutes and the dangerous queuing on the motorway has been eradicated.

"However, we are conscious that since opening there have been some damage-only accidents at the top of the northbound off-slip road.

"While the junction appears to be settling down and incidents seem to be reducing, we acknowledge that there could still be a residual problem.

"A final stage safety audit is due to be completed at the end of this week, after the permanent street lights have been installed.

"Once the results of the safety audit and feedback from the Highways Agency, the police and Hertfordshire Highways' engineers are collated, a balanced view can be made on the scale of any residual problem and the feasibility of making improvements.

"Should such improvements be necessary, we would aim to make a start at the end of January.

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