Friday, 26 October 2012

Never Mind the Bollards, Here's the 'Hazard Marker Posts'.

Thursday 25th October

Donning my Health & Safety 'Hi-Vis' jacket this morning, I met with members of the SCC Highways team and a member of the Safety Group to discuss the ongoing concern of the Red Road bends.

As mentioned before, there has been some funding made available for further road safety measures and I was curious to see how the measures might be implemented, together with what else could be done within that budget.

In short, not a great deal.
I suspect that we can all agree that the measures taken so far are very much piecemeal in nature. Ideally, a wholesale redesign of the road through the bends and the MacDonald Road junction IS what is required, but with estimates moving towards the millions for such a scheme, together with the associated compulsory purchase cost - and indeed the politics involved in any negotiation with Defence Estates (DIO as they are now named) - any such scheme is regrettably simply a pipe-dream at this point.

So, the engineers have determined what can be done with the budget.
In a far reaching discussion which commenced a couple of weeks ago, it would appear that the two existing Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) on the eastbound carriageway have actually reduced collisions. (I strongly believe that the eastbound VAS is located in the wrong place. I sense that it should be relocated to warn motorists as they approach the more dangerous bends rather than the entire stretch, but the ridiculously large cost implication of moving that existing VAS currently makes this impossible)
Given my own anecdotal experience of collisions at this location over the years, I don't believe that the reduction has been by quite enough, but at this stage I have to bow to the data which supports that point. On the basis of those improvements, it seems that collisions based upon westbound traffic have not reduced, which is why there will soon be a new VAS on the eastbound carriageway approaching the bends.

Similarly, there are a number of bend chevrons which have mysteriously disappeared over the years, probably due to accidents rather than students, which will be replaced and increased in number, further warning motorists of the hazard on both carriageways. A further static warning junction sign will also be erected to complement the existing VAS approaching MacDonald Road and the speed limit reduction will soon be in force, with repeater 50mph signs along the entire length of the road.

The safety officer rebuked me - in a good natured manner of course - about the use of the term 'bollards'. They were, she corrected me, now termed 'Hazard Marker Posts' (HMP). And it would appear that one of the hazards not currently warned of is the change in levels as one manoeuvres through the bends, causing motorists to 'lose the road' as they ascend the hill and veer across the centre of the carriageway. This is apparently most commonly corrected by the erection of a series of HMP, which will now also be erected along the southern verge alongside that particular hazard.

A victory of sorts I suppose. Overall, I've mixed feelings about these measures.
I'm delighted that there has been a reduction in collisions following the last scheme, and similarly hopeful that this latest set of measures will continue that trend. But I still maintain that the hazard needs a complete re-think if we are to see a complete demise of fatal accidents.

Which of course, in these budget strapped times, means not a redesign including lights & roundabouts etc, but the advent of a set of average speed cameras, fast attracting support throughout the corridors at County Hall.

Watch this space.

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