Dismay at slow pace of A46 improvements

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A number of collisions have occurred on the A46 in recent years.

URGENT safety improvements to the notoriously dangerous A46 are taking too long according to local politicians, who expressed disappointment about the slow pace of the project last week.

Local safety campaigners have long held concerns about the A46, with the stretch near Stratford seeing a number of serious accidents over recent years.

Only last week a woman was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries following a two-car collision between Harvington and Salford Priors.

Last year improvements to two of the road’s dangerous junctions, at Haselor Hill and the Bintion/Billesley junctions, were announced, with work expected to start sometime in 2020/21.

There also are long-term plans to dual the A46, with the district council consulting on plans to safeguard land around the route last year to make this happen.

Highways England claimed last week that design work on the junction improvements was now complete, but conceded that the organisation was now looking for funding to become available before it could proceed.

A spokesperson explained that they could not say when that would happen or how much money was needed.

With the route’s long history of serious accidents, there is growing anger at a perceived lack of progress.

Even Stratford District Councillor Mark Cargill, who spoke positively about the announcement of improvements to the road last year, has expressed dismay.

Cllr Cargill said: “I am disappointed that better progress has not been made considering the positive statements made by Highways England at the time of the meeting with myself and our MP Nadhim Zahawi.

“The junctions mentioned are still causing significant traffic queuing and in my opinion need safety improvements urgently. I’m frustrated because this doesn’t need to take the time it is taking.”

Echoing Cllr Cargill’s frustrations, Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi said: “There have been too many accidents on this stretch of the A46 and I have therefore been very supportive of plans to improve the safety and flow of junctions on the road, particularly the Haselor Hill and Binton junctions. However I fully share Mark Cargill’s assessment of the slow speed at which these works seem to have progressed and agree with the need for greater urgency.”

Last year a report published by car leasing firm UK Carline, based on a series of freedom of information requests, named the A46 as one for Britain’s top five most dangerous roads.

Sam Reading-East, a former first responder, said: “The police have been aware that there have been issues with the A46 for five years but nothing’s been done, people are still being left to die, morally that’s not right.

“I used to live in Bidford and had to drive along the A46 to work in Kenilworth, but I was having near misses every day. We’ve moved close to Shipston now because it was just far too dangerous to travel on the A46 regularly.

“There are some fundamental issues with the road, the majority of it is box section, yet people still overtake dangerously. It’s all because of the width of the road, it encourages reckless drivers to take these risks. The thing that would stop all this is the introduction of ANPR cameras, they would stop people racing down the section near Stratford, they would improve traffic flow and they would prevent accidents.

“As far as the plan to dual the A46 goes, I believe they could actually do that now without the need to widen the road, at least as a stopgap. They could have a stretch allowing each carriageway to overtake at different points.

“I completely disagree that there are more accidents on the A46 because of high usage. I used to be a first responder and carry all my equipment with me every day, when I was working, I used to come across so many accidents myself on the A46 even before I was called to help.”

A spokesperson from Highways England said: “Safety is always the priority for Highways England and steps are being taken to make improvements to the A46.

“Progress has been made on planned improvements at Haselor Hill and Billesley crossroads with the design work now complete. Once funding is available, we will begin consultation with the relevant parties.

“Highways England delivered resurfacing schemes along the wider A46 corridor at Kenilworth Bypass, Salford Priors and Binley last year along with resurfacing and maintenance work at Bishopton Island which is at the Stratford end of the A46.

“We have further resurfacing and maintenance work programmed for later this year at Binley and Tollbar.

“In addition Highways England is currently undertaking a safety study to review all the speed limits that apply along the full length of the A46 in the West Midlands.”