Do something at dock spur now, call
DON'T bother with any more paint and signs – build a major safety scheme now before someone else is killed.That's the message today to highways chiefs as they prepare for more tinkering with Felixstowe's deathtrap dock spur roundabout.
By Richard Cornwell
DON'T bother with any more paint and signs – build a major safety scheme now before someone else is killed.
That's the message today to highways chiefs as they prepare for more tinkering with Felixstowe's deathtrap dock spur roundabout.
Town councillors say the time for small-scale low-key work is over, and in the light of recent accidents it is time to go for the long-term solution now.
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They want the Highways Agency to ditch its plans for £35,000 worth of paint and signs this autumn and carry out engineering works costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to make the A14 junction safe once and for all.
Since the Transport Research Laboratory completed its report for the agency, there have been four incidents in the past six months – three of lorries overturning and one which shed its five-ton load on to the inside lane.
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Councillors are concerned that the frequency of the accidents has increased and fear it will only be a matter of time before there is another fatal crash.
Chris Slemmings, chairman of Felixstowe Town Council's general purposes committee, said: "We are slightly irritated that despite all their fine words in the report we still have lorries turning over and there is no smell of a solution being delivered.
"The plain fact is that if this roundabout was being built today it would not be that shape because standards have changed since it was built.
"So it doesn't matter how many stickers and signs and different action you take at that junction, what is really needed is major work – the Highways Agency needs to fix it and they should move to the final solution now."
If the agency had a problem finding the money for the work to realign the entry to the junction and separate port and town traffic – the most likely long-term scheme – it should make a case for funding.
"How many lorries have got to turn over before it moves up the priority list? I don't know – but from a Felixstowe point of view I have to say finding the money 'ain't my problem' and is a matter for the agency," he added.
"The problems at this roundabout are self-evident and they affect lorry drivers, residents and visitors.
"Felixstowe port is also the biggest container port in the UK and one of the largest in Europe and here at the end of the A14, one of the country's busiest roads, we have a roundabout with a safety record like this. It makes you scratch your head as say is someone taking the mickey?"
The council is to write to the agency to ask for it to build a long-term safety scheme now to prevent lorries turning right from rolling over, and also to put back the give way lines on the port exit to Ipswich, where the last two accidents have happened, to force traffic to slow.
There have been 18 accidents in six years of lorries rolling over or shedding their loads at the A14 junction.
In the worst incident motorist Martin O'Sullivan was killed when a lorry toppled and crushed his BMW in the inside lane.
Highways chiefs insist there is no problem with the roundabout and the crashes are down to driver error, faulty vehicles and poor loading.
They are proposing this autumn to change some road markings, paint 20mph advisory lorry speed limits on the carriageway and add some new signs.