Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Public demands traffic controls to prevent further deaths and injury at Hunters Lodge accident blackspot near Axminster
Highways chiefs have agreed to look again at installing traffic lights at the notorious Hunter’s Lodge accident blackspot, near Axminster.
And local MP Neil Parish – newly appointed aide to the transport minister – will press the Government to back the scheme, which is expected to cost more than £600,000.
The expensive lights option for the crossroads had been ruled out by the Highways Agency as unworkable – leading to long queues along the A35 with the risk of high-speed tail-end shunts.
But at a packed public meeting in the Guildhall last week residents overwhelmingly called on them to think again.
The demand came after Highways Agency chief Nigel Dyson outlined their plan to improve safety at the junction, which last year claimed the lives of two elderly women.
He said the scheme included extra and larger warning signs and road markings, the extension of the 40mph limit westwards and a pedestrian refuge between Lyme Road and Crewkerne Road.
He said funding was available and work could begin in this financial year.
But Mayor Jeremy Walden summed up the feeling of the meeting when he told him the plan “will not do at all”.
He said none of the measures outlined by Mr Dyson were likely to have prevented the double fatality last summer. And even if traffic lights did lead to delays it would be little different from the current situation, with drivers already queuing to get out of the side roads.
“We are all willing to wait – as long as we are safe,” he said. “We need traffic lights - that’s the essential thing.”
Mr Parish told the meeting the Highways Agency had worked hard to come up with its scheme and he suggested at least taking part of it – extending the speed limit, pressing for speed cameras and then pushing for the traffic lights.
“I am very happy to talk to the transport minister as I have been given this new role but I don’t carry a cheque book with me,” he said.
“I am very happy to keep pressing until we get it but there are some positives here so let’s not throw everything out.”
Mr Dyson told the meeting: “We are very happy to look again at how we can make traffic lights work safely but we do remain concerned that drivers, particularly coming from the west, will not take enough notice and slam into the back of queues.”
He said they would also consider the meeting’s requests to extend the 40mph speed limit both west and east of Hunters Lodge and install speed cameras. And they would look at widening the Lyme Road junction and possibly putting a stop sign there.
Mr Parish said they would call another meeting in around four months to report on progress.
After the meeting local road safety campaigner Joy Raymond said: “We finally we got the message across loud and clear that we will not settle for anything less than traffic lights at Hunters Lodge.
“ I feel that without our strong vociferous stand we would have been palmed off with more road paint and more signs.”