A1 Closure March 2018 for 17 days
Residents may have read the recent report in the Northumberland Gazette of Highway England’s intention to close the A1 from 2 March 2018 for 17 days. This has implications for the amount of traffic that will be diverted along the A697 and pass through Powburn and Low Hedgeley.
We have today received a copy of a letter written by Robbie Burn (Chair of Hedgeley Parish Council) to Jill Thornhill of Highways England. Robbie has asked that the letter be published in order to inform residents of Hedgeley Parish what actions the Parish Council are taking in response to the proposed closure.
Letter to Ms Jill Thornill
I have read the Public Notice published in the Northumberland Gazette stating your intention of a full road closure of the A1 in Northumberland between the Wandylaw and Adderstone junctions from 2 March 2018 for 17 days or until completion.
This no doubt means a traffic diversion for all A1 traffic North and South along the A697.
Powburn is a small village in North Northumberland built on either side of the A697. There are no crossing facilities within the village.
At busy times the road is very congested and a number of accidents have occurred. Indeed over the last few years in the village, and within three miles of the village, eight HGVs have overturned. One of these vehicles was carrying radioactive material.
We are concerned that the increase in traffic, which could be many thousands a day, would completely disrupt our village and be a serious safety issue.
These concerns are:
Width of road
We have a problem within the village of vehicles overtaking within the 30mph zone. We have asked on numerous occasions for double white lines throughout the village to alleviate this. We have been told by Northumberland County Council that the road is not wide enough to accommodate these lines.
The bridge over the Pow Burn is on a bend. HGVs have difficulty passing each other at this spot. Longer Heavier Vehicles (LHVs), which can be up to 54’2” in length, cannot pass this spot if another HGV is coming in the opposite direction.
We have no crossing facilities in the village. Despite a request to Northumberland County Council, we were told that there are not enough people crossing the road to warrant a crossing. Requests for a pedestrian crossing or even just a central refuge have been denied. There are many old people and children who live in the village who need to cross this road without any safety measures in place. Indeed a school bus drops off children at a junction on the A697 with no safe crossing available.
Degraded road surfaces
The road through the village is already degraded by the amount of heavy traffic. Seventeen days of increased traffic will no doubt degrade it further. What measures will be in place to resurface the road?
The village has long had a problem with speeding vehicles in the 30mph zone, some travelling up to 70mph. After years of campaigning we have, just this week, been scheduled for visits by the Police Camera Van: although this will only be twice a month.
Near Powburn is a large sawmill and also a quarry. HGVs turning across the traffic flow into these facilities will seriously affect traffic flow on the A697.
In previous consultations with Highways England regarding the dualling of the A1, these issues were highlighted in relation to any diversion along the A697.
If the diversion through our village is to go ahead, we believe the following measures would vastly increase road safety.
- Installation of two temporary traffic light controlled pedestrian crossings. One outside The Breamish Hall which is used constantly, particularly at night. The other located on the South side of the village near the drop off point for the school bus. In recent roadworks near Powburn it was decided that a bridge needed protection because of an increase in traffic due to a diversion. If stone can be protected, surely people can.
- No matter what the objection by Northumberland County Council, double white lines to be installed throughout the village.
- Increased visits by the Police Camera Van during this period.
In addition, we are greatly concerned about the future when work starts on dualling the A1. How many more months of disruption and danger will we be facing? A more permanent solution needs to be found.
Robbie Burn BEM BA(Hons)
Chairman (Hedgeley Parish Council)