Lib Dem councillors Kathy Pollard and Sue Carpendale are calling for action from Transport ministers after compiling a report which shows a shockingly high number of accidents on the A12 South of Ipswich between the Essex border and the Copdock Mill roundabout in the last 5 years. The report, which was compiled with the help of Stratford St. Mary resident Lorraine Clark, is to be sent to Government ministers and a summary has already been sent to parish councils to inform them of the findings.
In the period from 1st January 2006 to 31st December 2010 there were a total of 215 accidents, which resulted in 298 casualties, including five fatalities. Using Department of Transport figures, the cost of these accidents totals £17,583,000. The majority of the junctions between the Essex border and the Copdock Mill roundabout do not meet modern standards, due to short entry and exit slip roads.
|DfT Cost per accident||Number of injury or fatal accidents||Number of casualties||Total cost (£)|
Stratford resident Lorraine Clark said “Although we have appealed to the Highways Agency for safety improvements, they have told us that the case for a reduced speed limit from the Essex border to the East Bergholt (B1070) junction is uneconomic. So even though a 50mph limit on this stretch of road would drastically reduce accidents and add less than a minute to journey times, they will not consider it. We are now taking our fight to Government ministers in the hope that they will take the issue more seriously.”
Sue Carpendale and Kathy Pollard are the Liberal Democrat District councillors for Mid Samford ward, which includes Stratford St. Mary, Holton St. Mary and Capel St. Mary.
Councillor Carpendale commented “The number of accidents on this stretch of road is totally unacceptable. How many fatalities do there have to be before any action is taken? And of course non-injury accidents aren’t counted, even though they can cause major delays. Of course we would prefer to see a redesign of all the substandard junctions along this road, but in the meantime average speed cameras could at least keep speeds down to 70mph, even if the Highways Agency won’t reduce speeds below that. There has been serious neglect of road safety on this road for decades. This is even more inexcusable when the Highways Agency has recently spent £70m on overhead signs on the A12 and A14, many of which are still not in use.” See article in East Anglian Daily Times.
Councillor Kathy Pollard, who is also the County Councillor for Belstead Brook Division, added “In other parts of the country reduced speed limits have been used on sub-standard roads in order to decrease the number of accidents. A 50mph limit would also halve road noise and reduce emissions. Whilst we don’t see this as a permanent solution, nevertheless the A12 is a main arterial route to and from the East Coast ports. Surely it’s better to keep the traffic moving, even if the journey will take a minute longer? Reduced speed limits are used on motorways as well as trunk roads in order to regulate traffic flow. We are very disappointed that the Highways Agency has failed to champion the case for road safety. We will be seeking the support of local MPs to back our cross party campaign for improvements.”
For the Birch Lane to Four Sisters section we would suggest one or a combination of the following options:
- Average speed cameras to enforce the existing 70mph speed limit
- A reduced speed limit of 50 or 60mph. This would have the additional advantage of reducing noise and emissions as well as accidents
- Closure of the central reserve gaps on the A12 at the B1068, Stratford Hill and Squirrells Hall Lane junctions
From Four Sisters (B1070 junction) to the Copdock interchange each cluster of accidents should be examined and suitable remedial measures put forward.
The A12 dual carriageway from just South of the Essex/Suffolk border to the Copdock Mill interchange has a very high level of accidents. Figures used in the table above were supplied by Essex and Suffolk County Councils, on behalf of the Highways Agency. All but two junctions are substandard. This section of the A12 is sinuous with sections of poor visibility, lengthy gradients and poor camber.
- 13 of 18 northbound exit/entry slip roads are sub standard
- 19 of 21 southbound exit/entry slip roads are sub standard
There is a substantial amount of local support for a reduced speed limit from the Essex border to the Four Sisters interchange, based on a survey of local residents in Stratford St. Mary, Holton St. Mary and Higham in April 2009. Seventy one percent favoured a 50mph limit. In addition 83% favoured the closure of the B1068 central reserve gap.
A recent Highways Agency feasibility study (Atkins May 2010) suggested two viable options to improve road safety on this section of the A12: a lower speed limit and the closure of the gap at the central reservation crossings mentioned above. However both options are deemed by the Highways Agency to have low economic returns and are not being pursued.
Curiously in the economic appraisal of the closure of the gap in the central reservation at the B1068 junction, the Highways Agency failed to include accidents on the Southbound carriageway immediately before and alongside the deceleration lane at the B1068 (Hughes Corner) junction. They also failed to take into account the fact that one of those accidents was fatal. There are no records kept of non-injury accidents, of which there are many.
The article based on this press release appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on August 27th 2011