Safety concerns around busy junction in Long Melford prompt Suffolk County Council to confirm feasibility study into potential improvements
Pleas to address long-standing safety fears at a busy five-way junction in Long Melford have intensified – more than seven months after a formal request for improvements was submitted.
County councillor Richard Kemp wrote to the highways department this week, seeking urgent measures to improve the junction connecting Westgate Street, The Green and Church Walk.
The request – calling for a full assessment of the junction and an outline of potential solutions – was put forward in April, following a site meeting of villagers near The Black Lion pub, to voice their worries about the high traffic volume and the dangers to pedestrians, including schoolchildren crossing the road to the bus stop.
The safety concerns have heightened further this year, after a man was struck by a vehicle in Church Walk on March 21, before being airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge with serious injuries.
Cllr Kemp said there have been calls for improvements to the site for several years, dating back to the Long Melford Parish Plan, but he told the Free Press that, as of Tuesday, he was not aware of any progress on the matter.
In his correspondence to Suffolk Highways, Cllr Kemp said: “I cannot find any response in relation to the junction at the Black Lion, Long Melford, which I brought to your attention earlier this year, after a pedestrian was knocked over.
“This has been discussed numerous times over the years, with plans being drawn up.”
In response, David Chenery, safety and speed management engineer for Suffolk Highways, confirmed the authority was looking into carrying out a feasibility study into potential ways of improving the site, subject to agreeing a funding arrangement for the work.
The study would investigate past traffic collisions and previous suggestions, look at the current road layout, signs and markings, assess the junction to the east, and survey vehicle speeds, while also including discussions with councillors and residents.
Mr Chenery indicated the delay in the junction being assessed was because it had not been categorised as a “historical high accident cluster site”, and thus had not met the criteria for Suffolk Highways to conduct an automatic investigation.
He added that police had not asked highway engineers to assess the road layout, following the collision in March.
“I have always been of the opinion that only a radical, but expensive, solution may provide a simpler and safer road layout,” he said. “As such, I have been looking at ways in which this could be delivered.
“The next junction east, with the acute junction layout, has seen several collisions and has been listed as a candidate for improvements if money was available. Perhaps there is a solution that addresses both junctions.
“If the village green is common land, this will pose more of a challenge if land is required for any junction realignment.
“Finally, consideration is being given to an experimental weight limit on the A1092, which should reduce HGV flows through this junction, but require signs in and around this area.”