Safety measures for A34 will be announced in weeks promises Highways England
Transport bosses have pledged to announce vital new safety measures for the A34 in the next few weeks.
The commitment from Highways England to reveal detailed designs from a safety review for the busy route, which cuts through Oxfordshire, came following the latest fatality.
The A34 was shut for hours at East Ilsley on Saturday after a 46-year-old biker from Coventry hit the central barrier while going southbound. He died at the scene.
A crash between a car and a caravan on the same stretch also caused major delays on the same day.
Last year, the Department for Transport announced it would fund almost all the recommendations from a safety review of the A34 backed by Oxfordshire MPs.
The recommendations included average speed cameras, improved laybys and digital signage but Highways England, the government-owned company operating England’s motorways and major A roads, has not provided any further details and there is no start date yet for improvements.
Average speed cameras work by tracking the speed of your car between two points and are in use on sections of the M1.
Yesterday a Highways England spokesman said: “We are currently working on finalising detailed scheme designs, which we will be announcing over the next few weeks.”
County council leader Ian Hudspeth said he expected the investment in new safety measures to cost millions of pounds.
He added: “This is good news – analysis of accident locations will identify where the priorities are.
“Slip roads need to be lengthened at the East Ilsley turn and laybys are another issue – they are too short as they were designed for 1960s traffic conditions.
“There need to be digital signs and more speed limits, and enforcing those speed limits could reduce the number of accidents.
“Bringing in these new measures will cost millions and there will be delays because of roadworks, but it will be worth it because it will prevent fatalities.”
Mr Hudspeth added that he was caught up in delays on Saturday and was diverted through East Ilsley village.
He said: “When there are long delays the cost to businesses can be immense.”
Earlier this year, in response to a parliamentary question from Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran, the Department for Transport confirmed there were 3,412 casualties between 2013 and 2017 on the dual carriageway, including 45 deaths.
Ms Moran had urged transport bosses to announce a start date for safety improvements.
She said last night: “It is high time that Highways England made this announcement – we’ve been waiting for a long time for improvements to the A34 to be made.”
The Department for Transport said at the time: “Highways England is continuing to work on the design of the improvements with the aim of starting delivery in the 2019/20 financial year.”
The Highways England spokesman added yesterday: “Safety is Highways England’s top priority and we remain committed to reviewing safety on the A34 as we do on all our roads.
“The A34 generally performs well on safety, and has fewer collisions than other roads of its type.
“Nevertheless, there have been some serious accidents on the A34 in recent years and we recognise the concern that people have expressed.
“In February 2018 we announced that we had identified measures in a safety review of the road that would be taken forward, and we have already started work on designing, funding and delivering them.
“We continue to keep safety on the A34 under continual review.”
In 2016 a lorry driver admitted killing three children and a mother while distracted by his mobile phone.
Tomasz Kroker, 30, from Andover, Hampshire, drove into stationary traffic at an estimated 50mph.
The collision happened between the East and West Ilsley junctions in Berkshire.
Tracey Houghton, 45, from Bedfordshire, Josh Houghton, 11, Ethan Houghton,13, and Aimee Goldsmith, 11, all died at the scene.
Five others were injured in the crash on August 10.
Kroker pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He was jailed for 10 years.
In 1981 Former Abingdon MP Tom Benyon was the first parliamentarian to complain that the A34 was unsafe and needed improvements, describing it as ‘dangerous and pathetically inadequate’.