Written by ROB SMYTH
BURTON’S MP has made an impassioned plea to highways chiefs to make sure that vital safety changes along the A38 are given the go-ahead – after the exact details of objections opposing the plans were revealed in full for the first time.
Andrew Griffiths told the Mail that he would be ‘astonished’ if the Highways Agency chose to scrap plans to permanently close gaps between Branston and Barton under Needwood after just three members of the public complained about the bid to ‘save the lives of countless motorists’.
Now, after the objections were revealed to the people of Burton in full, the Tory has urged road chiefs to ‘make the right choice’ but admits that he is hopeful of a positive outcome.
This news comes one day after two incidents along the A38 saw people taken to hospital and drivers facing major delays following accidents.
He said: “I have always said that it only fair that people have the right to object and put their views forward but now they are out in the open, I would be astonished if the Highways Agency decided to side with just three objectors and not close the dangerous gaps which have resulted in people losing their lives.”
The Mail today published the exact details of complaints that saw the near universally-backed project hit the buffers towards the end of 2013, delaying measures that a range of services from Staffordshire Police – including the area’s top cop chief inspector Steve Maskrey – to the majority of drivers who use the road deemed as ‘vital’.
The documents showed that people valued the cost of fuel and the additional journey time and distance above the potential lifesaving merits of the new safety measures, which will also see a reduction in the speed limit to 60mph along the road.
Mr Griffiths added: “I pushed for the reasons to be made public so people could see what they exactly were and understand my strength of feeling and determination for them to be overruled and the decision to be pushed through.
“However, I look forward to a positive outcome and feel that the project is in sight of victory.”
Mr Griffiths alongside the Mail and a host of other agencies launched a bid to improve safety along the A38 following the death of two sisters in 2012.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “In terms of the statutory consultation process, the three objectors have until today to make any final points in support of their objections.
“After this period, the Agency will consider their objections taking account of the safety benefits of the scheme. A decision will be made within a week.”
Objection 1: Fuel and travel time
“On the subject of closing the gaps, we oppose that for the following reasons:
– the ever increasing cost of fuel. Most dwellings nearby have three or more vehicles, essential for busy people working away from the town.
-the extra journey time and distance that the residents would have to travel is in itself a danger since trying to rejoin the A38 at Barton Turns to come back on ourselves is hazardous at peak times as very few vehicles are willing to move over to allow re-entry on the carrigeway.
We do welcome the speed restriction that is being proposed, it is what we have asked for over many years.
It should greatly reduce the noise pollution, however I feel it would be more effective if it was an ‘average speed limit.
If this was successful then the bus stops could be reinstated as the service stops were suspended due to have the danger of re-entering the carrigeway.”
Objection: ‘No consultation’
“I am writing to object to the gap closures due to the fact that those people who it affects have not been contacted or consulted.
“I have used these gaps for 20 years without any problems.
“With out local knowledge, we could make some health and safety suggestions which would solve the problems without closing the gaps.
“It seems to me we don’t exist or count.
“This will put five miles each time to get back to this same point.
“I would like to point out that the consultation notices where in a place near to our homes where you would not normallt walk to or visit.
“These closures are being imposed on us by stealth and they will also not solve the problem of bad driving.
“I would recommend a speed restriction, CCTV and better signage.
“What about the public enquiry last time that said it was unreasonable to close the gaps.”