Safety should play role in A1 decision, say Lib Dems

Julie Porksen beside the A1.
Julie Porksen beside the A1.

Decision-makers have been asked by Lib Dems in north Northumberland to take greater account of road safety when looking at the dualling of the A1.

Prospective parliamentary candidate for Berwick Julie Pörksen has written to Danny Alexander MP, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and the Department for Transport team which is determining how much of the A1 will be dualled, asking them to take greater account of road-safety issues.

At the recent A1 Stakeholder Meeting, Julie raised two issues which could impact on the value-for-money assessment of each option to be considered for dualling – the increasing risks to road safety and also the use of the A697.

According to the A1 feasibility-study team, investing in dualling the A1 is being put at risk by the increase in HGV speed limit on single carriageways from 40mph to 50mph, as average vehicle speeds will increase, and so less time is saved by dualling the road. However, Julie has presented additional arguments for road safety which need to be taken into account as reasons to dual the A1.

She said: “I have raised the issue of road safety directly with Danny Alexander as I believe that road safety needs to take a greater priority in the decision-making process for dualling the A1. There are too many families losing their loved ones on Northumberland’s roads.

“The increase in HGV speed limit will really help traffic flows on safe trunk roads, however, on some roads there could be risks to road safety, particularly where the overtaking stretches are limited and it will take longer to overtake a lorry travelling at 50mph. Also known danger spots such as the Mousen Bends could become more dangerous.

“The alternative route of the A697 has sadly proven its poor safety record lately and I felt it necessary to raise the two recent fatalities and two lorries which came off the A697 at notorious dangerspots near Powburn and Thrunton with the A1 decision-makers.

“Dualling the A1 so that we have a safe, reliable and quick route to Scotland could help relieve the through traffic on the A697 and help road safety on both roads.”