Safety issues at Elton junction

Following a fatal crash in May 2017 at the Elton A605 junction, Cambridgeshire County Council has installed traffic islands to reduce the risk of further collisions.

A605 junction with B671 Closed due to RTC involving UPS Lorry and Nissan Micra

Over the weekend of 28-29 October, Highways closed the road to allow improvements to be made, which included refreshed white lines, additional deflection arrows, road surfacing and vegetation pruning. Bollards for new traffic islands were delivered for installation a few weeks later.

This action follows the death in May of Josephine Booth (82) from Nassington. Josephine used to drive to the Oundle market every Thursday with other elderly companions, but on that occasion she was on her own. She usually travelled via the Fotheringhay Bridge, but on this occasion she went through Elton. Josephine was driving a Nissan Micra when her car was struck by a lorry as she pulled out.

Five days after the accident, the Elton Parish Council held a meeting attended by 34 members from the village, with discussion of the junction on the agenda.

Mr Andrew Preston, Highway Projects and Road Safety Manager at Cambridgeshire County Council, said the county would implement a highway improvement safety scheme which would include bollards and further speed restrictions.

In a letter to Tom Pursglove, MP Corby and East Northamptonshire, in September, Mr Preston wrote that in response to residents’ concerns, officers had been working closely with County Councillor Simon Bywater, and Elton Parish Council.

Proposals were drawn up ‘to install traffic islands at the junction, to contribute to reducing the risk of further collisions by preventing vehicles from overtaking through the junction.’

The installation has been funded by the county council. Further work to review the signage and lines between Elton and the A1M junction is also underway.

He said road safety representatives in partnership with the police had not identified any highway related issues to the Elton junction, but that driver behaviour was the main contributor to road traffic collisions.

He also said that Elton junction was not regarded as a high risk route based on its accident history: ‘Until recently [it has had] no fatal collisions in the previous five year period and no current accident cluster sites, even when taking into account the recent incidents.’

Concerns about safety issues at the junction were originally flagged up in 1992 when the junction was opened. In 2004, after a series of meetings, the Cambridgeshire County Council agreed to build a roundabout at the junction.

This scheme was delayed when the landowner, Sir William Proby refused to sell the land needed to build the roundabout. He suggested an alternative idea: that traffic be diverted to an existing flyover a mile further down the A605.

This idea was rejected by the Parish Council who concluded that the idea was not as safe as the proposed roundabout, and also involved a three mile detour.

In May 2004, the county council’s cabinet decided to move the project forward by applying for a compulsory purchase order, and a public inquiry was scheduled.

Two years later, the public enquiry was cancelled and the plan was dropped. Cambridgeshire County Council said they had identified ‘a major reduction of accidents since the installation of a safety camera in 2002’.

Their legal advice was that the public inquiry would fail due to the sharp rate drop in accidents and that the money would be better spent on improving other, more dangerous junctions.

Elinor Nikolova
December 2017

Photo credit: Terry_Harris.com