A505 proposals need to be brought forward urgently, says MP
PUBLISHED: 07:01 01 August 2019
The MP for North East Hertfordshire has told the Crow he would campaign for government funding for improvements on the A505 - which "must be brought forward urgently" - after a frustrating wait of more than a year since a feasibility study was concluded on the Royston to Baldock stretch.
Sir Oliver Heald's comments come after a serious crash involving a car and a lorry at the Odsey turning on Wednesday last week - which saw four people cut out of the car by firefighters - and a crash near Wallington on July 16, which left a driver in a critical condition in hospital.
There have also been further reports of near-misses and wrong-way drivers on the stretch.
The Crow has continued to press Herts County Council for updates on changes to the stretch - where the road is 70mph and is dotted with cut-through junctions in the central reservation for access to villages.
We were told last month that "once the development of the A505 project is complete and the scheme/s have been successfully consulted upon, funds will be sought to enable construction".
It appears that, since the feasibility study ended in March last year, progress has been slow. In June 2018, we were told by the county council that they were "in the process of defining the scope, delivery mechanism and programme for the scheme".
Sir Oliver shares our frustrations, and has said that bringing the proposals forward is now a matter of urgency.
He told the Crow: "I am pressing the county council to bring forward their proposals for the A505 as a matter of urgency, and have told them I would campaign for any necessary government funding bid from the county council.
"I have asked for an urgent briefing on progress with their timetable for action. I am also asking the county council for a public information campaign to highlight the need to drive with care on the A505.
"I continue to be approached by concerned constituents about the safety of the A505.
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"I have campaigned with councillors and local residents for improvements to the road over many years and pay tribute to the way the Royston Crow has highlighted this important issue for our area.
"The Hertfordshire County Council survey of the A505 was started following pressure from me, district councillor Tony Hunter and county councillor Fiona Hill.
"About two years ago, there had been accidents at Slip End and Odsey and we brought the full Herts Highways team and the HCC portfolio holder Terry Douris out to walk the road with us where we pointed out dangers and accident sites.
"I believe the resulting survey was completed about a year ago and since then the county highways team have been working up a set of options, for example, modelling the effects of closing a particular junction, reducing a speed limit in a particular stretch or all the road, looking at the effect of roundabouts in particular positions on traffic behaviour and other road safety considerations.
"The time has come for proposals to be brought forward and I will happily argue the case for any bid for government funding.
"Over the years my pleas together with councillors and residents have led to some improvements, but more is needed as recent accidents have shown.
"My campaign for a roundabout at Odsey led to the introduction of the westbound speed cameras about 10 years ago.
"The vegetation is more severely pruned and cut back after we took up the issue of sight-lines at cuts and junctions.
"Signage has been improved, including the 'no right turn' and 'no entry' signs as you exit the Ashwell turn, to try to stop people turning into the eastbound lane when they intend to turn right into the westbound lane. County councillor Fiona Hill has pressed tirelessly on this and, since he was elected, Steve Jarvis has made common cause on these issues.
"You can be sure we will continue to press the case. It is worth saying that drivers do need to take this road very seriously and be careful.
"Sadly, some accidents over the years have had driver error as a factor. We have all regularly seen driving on this road which has not been as cautious as it should be. I am asking county for a public information campaign to highlight the need to drive with care."