After a brief break for the Christmas and New Year, I'm posting my report of a meeting held for residents of Tufton by Mr Mike Stead, addressing the concerns about the danger of accidents posed at the junction by the A34 slip road and the lane known as Nun's Walk, on the South side of Whitchurch.
Mr Stead, opened the meeting and used presentation slides to show the junction in question and described his concerns and those of Tufton residents and what correspondence he had had with Hampshire, the Town Council and the Highways Agency (HA). Mr Stead then introduced me, as Hampshire County Councillor, and invited me to address the meeting.
I explained what Hampshire's approach is and how the County needs to work with the HA, as responsibility of the road falls between the two, with the junction itself under Hampshire's responsibility. I described the site visit I had undertaken with HA, Hampshire and Town Council representatives two weeks previously to look at a practical set of steps to provide a quick, short term solution.
The County has established a working relationship with the HA, which has agreed to see what it can do with the marking and clearing sight lines at the off slip road.
I had also asked the HA to look at whether red and white concrete barriers could be used to stop off-traffic crossing over into the oncoming traffic at the bend by the junction. The HA has explained it has very limited funds and that the slip road is near the bottom of the current priority list, based on recorded accident data and casualties for junctions along the A34.
I described how a solution to formalise the worn verge - under the overpass on the Tufton side - into a hard foot way is planned by Hampshire for completion in 2013.
During the Q&A session afterwards, there was some desire to put in a cycle path on the other side of the road and change the priority at the Tufton junction. I explained that changing the priority at the junction would not work if the main flow was required to give way, since regular users would tend to ignore the Give Way, and in effect make the junction more dangerous.
I also explained how a possible longer term solution to put in a footpath with cycle path is being investigated by Hampshire. I emphasised that my priority was to make the road safer for families and others who needed a safe path between the town and Tufton.
A continuous path on the left hand side of the road, when travelling to Tufton from Whitchurch, that may be wanted by recreational cyclists, (who would not want to have to stop and cross the road to access a cycle path), would be very costly as it would need to traverse both the on and off slip roads at Tufton. I explained that I could not support that kind of costly facilities to satisfy such recreational cyclists (or those who 'enjoy a burn', as I recall Mr Stead describing it).
The meeting adjourned with broad agreement that the solutions proposed by Hampshire were welcome, and a hope that the HA would be able to make the changes discussed.
The meeting also thanked Mr Stead for his hard work.