Leaflet campaign to aid dock spur safety

THOUSANDS of leaflets are to be printed and handed out to truckers in a new bid to improve safety at Felixstowe's deathtrap dock spur roundabout.The initiative announced today is a joint venture between the Port of Felixstowe and the Evening Star and follows frustration at the lack of action to stop lorries rolling over at the A14 junction.

By Richard Cornwell

THOUSANDS of leaflets are to be printed and handed out to truckers in a new bid to improve safety at Felixstowe's deathtrap dock spur roundabout.

The initiative announced today is a joint venture between the Port of Felixstowe and the Evening Star and follows frustration at the lack of action to stop lorries rolling over at the A14 junction.

Work promised by the Highways Agency has still not been done and this week fresh monitoring of the junction was being carried out as part of the preparations for it.

MP John Gummer is pressing for a major scheme to be put in place and has been carrying out a pre-planned blitz of the authorities to shake them up.

But still no action has been taken and every day there is the risk that another truck will flip over – and could cause a serious or even fatal crash.

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The Star and the port have teamed up to design and produce a leaflet which will be given out by port police to lorry drivers as they leave the 700-acre complex.

The leaflet warns "Don't be next!" and features photos of some of the 19 accidents there have been in the past six years of trucks rolling over or shedding their loads.

It urges drivers to slow down and to make sure they abide by the 20mph speed limit on the roundabout as they turn right to the port.

Corporate affairs officer Rachael Jackson said it was intended to produce 5,000 of the leaflets.

"We wanted to do something positive and to make people aware of the problems at the roundabout," she said.

"If we can alert people to the dangers and make them slow down it certainly won't do any harm and could help improve safety."

While there are a large number of drivers who use the port regularly and are well aware of the hazards posed by the junction, there are also many drivers who do not use it so often, especially foreign truckers.

The Star has provided photos for the leaflet and helped with the design.

Editor Nigel Pickover said: "We support any move which will improve safety at this roundabout where we have seen so many accidents and one terrible tragedy.

"It is a scandal that a proper solution has not been found and we will continue to press for engineering works to make this junction safer for everyone who uses it – lorry drivers and motorists.

"It's only a matter of time before we see another serious crash and one more accident will be one too many."

The Port of Felixstowe has offered to help pay for extra safety work at the roundabout. It is not offering to pay for a major schemes costing hundreds of thousands, but is to contribute towards extra action above what the highways authorities are proposing, but has still not heard if the offer has been accepted.

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IS the dock spur roundabout going to wrack and ruin?

A number of the street lights around it have been out for weeks, one sign recently fell down and another was being held up by a step ladder, and the road surface is falling apart in places.

There is also the stumpy remains of a broken lamp-post which was knocked down by a lorry and has not been replaced.

To add to the misery, safety work which the Highways Agency said would be carried out in the autumn has still not been done – though it should start next month.

Felixstowe town and district councillor Andy Smith said the roundabout was in a poor state. The town council had already raised concerns about the road surface with the agency.

"I think we are entitled to know what is happening and why even the limited action we were promised has not been carried out. It is time something was done," said Mr Smith.

Fresh traffic monitoring has been carried out this week at the site to add to the topographical studies done in early autumn.

The agency had said around £30,000 would be spent last autumn on new advisory speed markings on the road – 20mph on the Felixstowe approach and 30mph on the port exit road – and new hatching at the Candlet Road exit to separate traffic going to the docks and town centre and improve the driving line.

It has consistently said it has no plans for major work, despite three schemes being drawn up, because it does not believe the roundabout to be the main cause of the roll-over crashes.

It says speed may be a factor – though most lorries which crash are only going slowly – and main reasons for the accidents are poor loading and vehicle defects.

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said the work on signs and road markings would start at the end of February or early March. It will include work to improve the Candlet Road entrance, where there have been a number of shunt accidents, and the agency has been talking to the county council about suitable improvements.

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