From Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard, District Councillors
There are constant reports in the press of delays due to accidents on the A12. Apart from the human misery this causes, there is a knock on effect to the economy. The A12 is, of course, part of the strategic route to the East Coast ports. We have been involved with campaigns to improve safety on the A12 for more than 30 years. Three years ago we compiled a report with the help of Bill Davies, Chair of Stratford St. Mary parish council, and Lorraine Clark, a local resident. This highlighted the high numbers of accidents between the Essex border and Copdock Mill interchange and made suggestions for improvements, including average speed cameras.
With the upturn in the national economy, traffic has begun to increase again. Tailbacks at Copdock Mill roundabout are becoming more frequent and the likelihood of accidents along the A12 is rising. We felt it was time to set up another meeting with the Highways Agency to seek further action. This meeting took place at the Stratford Institutute on July 30th. We had invited every parish council along the route to send a representative and most attended. District and County Councillors were also invited.
Funding of road improvements has been reduced in the last few years, due to austerity measures, but there is better news for the next 5 year period with big increases in the roads budget. The regional A12 route management strategy has ackowledged the same safety issues we raised in our earlier report in 2011, for example the dangerously short slip roads at Stratford St. Mary and East Bergholt and the winding nature of the A12 between those two villages. In addition there are clusters of accidents all along the A12 and “shunts” on the approach to the Copdock Mill roundabout. Virtually the whole road is substandard from the Essex border up to the Copdock Mill junction.
Issues discussed at the meeting with the Highways Agency on July 30th included:
- Capel underpass flooding
The Highways Agency representatives admitted that there had been a reporting problem when the Capel underpass flooded. It is their responsibility and repair works have now been carried out to the pumps. There was also no information about the underpass closure on the overhead gantry signs and no diversion signs had been set up. We also asked about maintenance as the paintwork is looking very shabby and rust is showing through.
- Average speed cameras between the Essex border and East Bergholt
The installation of these has been delayed until January 2015. The Highways Agency are anticipating the saving of three personal injury accidents each year following installation. The speed limit will remain at 70mph. Speed measurements along this stretch showed that 15% of motorists were travelling above 74mph.
- Resurfacing work
A major programme of resurfacing will be carried out next year between Copdock Mill interchange and the B1070 (East Bergholt) junction. There will be an opportunity to improve drainage, barriers and signage at the same time. Work will be carried out at night.
- Noise from the A12
The Highways Agency was asked what was being done to reduce noise from the A12 as it has become an increasing problem over the years. The response was that nothing specific is being planned at present, but that the new surface should be a little quieter.
- Copdock Interchange improvements
As well as the increase in queuing traffic, there were also complaints about poor and confusing lane marking on the roundabout. Lane swapping is also an issue. Suffolk County Council are currently putting together some options for improvements.
- Other safety issues
The short slip road at the entrance and exit from the garage on the Southbound carriageway at Capel St. Mary was mentioned as an accident risk.
- Closure of Hughes Corner right turn to Higham/Stoke by Nayland
Although accidents have reduced on the A12 near this junction, closure of the Hughes Corner right turn has had a major impact on traffic through Higham and Stratford St. Mary.
- Setting up of an A12 Forum
The Highways Agency representatives suggest that we set up a forum to lobby for improvements and that a further meeting should take place in September/October. With this in mind we will explore further dates with them and invite parish, district and county representatives.