A1 safety push before M-way status granted

The A1 motorway at the junction with the A61. GS0204082a.
The A1 motorway at the junction with the A61. GS0204082a.
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A PACKAGE of safety measures to tackle the risk of collisions on the A1 in North Yorkshire will be delivered in advance of the major scheme to upgrade the route to motorway status, the Highways Agency announced this week.

On December 5, as part of the 2012 Autumn Statement, the Government announced £314 million of funding to allow the motorway upgrade of the A1 between Leeming and Barton to start in 2014.

Work on the safety measures announced by the Highways Agency on Monday will start in February to ensure road users see the benefits as soon as possible. More than 50,000 vehicles use this stretch of the A1 every day.

Vanessa Gilbert, the Highways Agency’s regional director, said: “Work to upgrade the A1 from Leeming to Barton to motorway standard will begin within a couple of years, but we can deliver important safety benefits within the next three months with this programme of smaller scale improvements.”

The £1.1 million package of safety measures will include measures to reduce the risk of side-on and shunt-style collisions by closing gaps in the central reservation and improving safety where side roads and private accesses join the A1.

The full package includes proposals to:

l Remove potentially hazardous roadside trees and overgrowth, replacing them with lower-growing shrubs – work on this is nearing completion

l Provide new roadside safety barriers, with work due to start this month

l Improve safety at side road junctions and private accesses, start this month

l Close 16 gaps in the central reservation. These gaps currently provide access to the A1 from minor junctions or private accesses. Closing the gaps will prevent vehicles u-turning or right-turning onto the opposite carriageway, and reduce the risk of collisions. Left-turn access to and from the A1 will be maintained in all cases.

The Highways Agency said it recognised that closing the gaps will inconvenience some people but has taken the decision because the measure will reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the route.

In the five-year period up to June last year there were 90 incidents involving injuries to one or more people, including five deaths and 21 serious injuries. Almost half of these were directly associated with the use of the junctions, private accesses and central reservation gaps.

Vanessa Gilbert added: “Closing the gaps will bring significant road safety benefits along this stretch of the A1 where almost half of personal injury accidents over the last five years have been directly associated with manoeuvres at these minor junctions, private accesses or central reservation gaps.

“It will remove the general hazard of u-turn and right-turn manoeuvres and prevent long vehicles, such as articulated lorries, from creeping out across the carriageway to make a right turn, which is especially hazardous.”