21 December 2012

Tufton Junction - the Public Meeting

Around twenty people attended the Tufton or Death meeting in the Gill Nethercott Centre, arranged by Whitchurch resident Mike Stead who is calling for the A34 / Nun's Walk junction at Tufton to be improved to ensure safety for all.

The Dangers
Mr Stead opened the meeting explaining the dangers, in particular for users of vehicles from Whitchurch turning right towards Tufton. These were also covered HERE.
If this van met someone cycling or driving from the other way
the results would be horrendous.

Throughout most of the evening Liveable Whitchurch's photo of a white van crossing the existing hatching was used as an example of the potentially lethal dangers that exist.

Hampshire County Councillor Tom Thacker explained that the junction had special difficulties as it was on a boundary of responsibilities between HCC and the Highways Agency, and also that in these days of austerity, funding was very limited. Despite local worries it seems it is listed number 73 out of 78 in order of concern for the Highways Agency. The Councillor described Mike as "very tenacious" - a credit to his commitment - but agreed over the junction's problems and was progressing various ideas including upgrading the footpath to improve access for pedestrians.

Some excellent ideas came out of the meeting including use of bollards/concrete barriers to narrow the road and force drivers to keep left, together with moving the road signs but again the issue of who was responsible was raised.
Quite why these public bodies cannot work easily together seems a question that needs resolving!
Meanwhile every day that passes when vehicles leaving the A34 don't keep to the left increases the risk of a head on collision.

Not all drivers keep to the left when leaving the A34,
putting those turning into Tufton at serious risk.
Cllr Thacker argued against the idea of redesign with a T-junction and Give Way signs at the end of the A34 slip road to slow traffic, despite Mike showing some good examples of where these existed and indeed worked. The Councillor claimed that 'putting in signs that people won't obey can sometimes be worse than doing nothing'. He added that police would not support changes where most people would ignore them as they would be unenforceable. Of course whether a T-junction would be ignored is highly questionable.
Some believe such logic is flawed. If the majority of people became shoplifters, would the law then turn a blind eye?
There are certainly junctions with slip roads and T-junctions that DO work, some quite close by such as the A303 Micheldever/Overton exit, as shown HERE on Google. There are many others.

It has been proposed this path at the Tufton junction
may become a cycle route.
Would you ride here with a 60mph traffic flow
coming towards you just inches to your left?
Cycle Route
Cllr Thacker also mentioned a possible shared use cycle route with a central white line back as far as the 40mph signs, but as many cyclists know these can cause more difficulties than they solve, so this will be followed with interest. Any such work should be of proper segregated provision rather than the usual UK poor relation to continental practice where cycle facilities are far more advanced. He also said was that he would not support any spending on a route that was for recreational cycling. That raised some eyebrows!

It was a positive meeting although it strayed at one point into a complaint about horses that regularly left their calling cards on the footpath at the junction!

It is excellent that Cllr Thacker said he will be progressing some of the ideas including upgrading the footpath on the Tufton side of the bridge and investigating the concrete kerb/bollard idea, but Mike Stead is also to be much thanked for raising this issue and encouraging the authorities to take notice of the real dangers that exist here.
Let's hope the junction is improved before anyone is killed or seriously injured.

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