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Wiltshire Council and Highway Agency going round in circles on A350 / A303

December 7, 2011 2:05 PM

LorryWiltshire Council have proposed changes to lorry restrictions in western Wiltshire following complaints from residents in Maiden Bradley, Chapmanslade and Corsley...

...however they won't do anything until the Highways Agency goes ahead with its plans to improve the A303 / A350 junction...

...and this won't happen because the HA doesn't have the cash to do the required work...

...so after years of consultation and studies and reports by expensive consultants what is going to happen is precisely...

...nothing.

.........................

The Highways Agency plans for the A350 junction would involve the construction of a new slip road south of the A303, so it would no longer be necessary for traffic to perform the difficult right turn onto the 303. At the same time the nearby B3089 junction with the A303 at Willoughby Hedge would be amended to prohibit right turns.

The Highways Agency (HA) is responsible for main roads, in this case the A303, whilst Wiltshire Council (WC) manages all the other roads in the county.

In 2006 Wiltshire County Council commissioned consultants Mouchel to produce a report on the problems caused by lorries trundling through the villages, This was looked at by the council's 'cabinet' in 2007, where it was resolved to do a detailed consultation on the proposals.

Then in June 2008 the HA produced their ideas for the A303.

Wiltshire Council argues that extending lorry bans on the county roads would mean more lorries accessing the A350 and A303 at these junctions. The HA wants to improve the junctions because they're dangerous, and sending more lorries through them would inevitably increase that danger.

However the WC proposals would remove the existing weight restriction on the B3089 westbound, which with minor amendments to the Willoughby Hedge junction could improve road safety.

WC's justification for doing nothing about this is very clever - read these words carefully: "If we slightly improve the junction this will make it safer, so there will be less accidents. The Highways Agency's reason for wanting to do the more comprehensive works is based on the cost-benefit ratio between cost of works and cost of accidents. If we generate fewer accidents the ratio will change and the HA may decide it's not worth doing their scheme. Therefore it's best not to improve road safety but to keep accidents at a high level."

Although unlikely at present it is possible the HA may find the money to carry out the A303 junction improvements. WC covers itself against this possibility by pointing out that the costs of its suggested weight restrictions would be £250,000, which are not budgeted for, so it couldn't do it anyway.