Thursday, May 22, 2008

Road Safety Improvements

One of the successes of Stockton Council's mini-devolution of budgets has been the Area Transport Strategy budget. £25,000 goes annually to each of the Area Partnerships to spend on transport related matters which otherwise wouldn't make it onto the priority lists. Tonight was the 3rd annual meeting in the Western Area to agree our spending priorities and hear a progress report on last year's spending.
The dropped kerbs in Station Road, Eaglescliffe, are in place so it's now possible to go with a wheelchair or pram from Yarm Road to the station and to the shops en route. The bus stop on Durham Lane near Cleasby Way is finished and in use. The gateway feature for Long Newton to improve safety through the village now that the A66 junction is functioning is almost complete and the link road to Elton is almost open. One small issue is proving difficult - what kind of speed hump to have on it! The bus companies can't accept a hump right across the road because of the jarring on the spine of their drivers crossing it. A local farmer says he can't accept a cushion because of the stress it places on some of the wheels on one of his pieces of equipment, despite the NFU not objecting. Stockton Council's appeals and complaints committee heard evidence from both sides and decided to ask the community engineer to review the situation again. If tonight is anything to go by he'll be reporting no change to the next meeting of the committee!
Last year we spent part of our money on two studies in Eaglescliffe - one on Urlay Nook Road to look at safety for pedestrians crossing especially young people going to and from school, and one on Durham Lane to see whether there had been any improvements as a result of the actions taken a few years ago on advisory speed limits and other markings.
Urlay Nook Road turned out to be interesting, with young people being observed walking along the length of it until they spot a safe gap in the traffic and then crossing. There have been no injury accidents on that stretch of road but parents perceive it as unsafe. As a result of the study we decided last night to use some of the fund along with some from the ward councillor community improvement fund to pay for some extra signage to remind motorists to be careful and some dropped kerbs at the point with the best visibility to encourage people to cross there. Everyone agreed that it seemed to be a good compromise so I hope the young people who first asked for a safer crossing point agree with us.
The Durham Lane study was also instructive but left us feeling disappointed. There has actually been a slight increase in accidents on that stretch of road, although the seriousness has slightly decreased on average. However, the one fatality was one too many and we were all very keen to reduce the likelihood of a repeat. After a lot of discussion of other factors and taking into account the planning application for Allen's West which will be determined in the next few months, we agreed that the way forward was to formalise the speed limit so that police can enforce it and to reinforce it with solid white lines to deter the overtaking which has been a feature of some of the injury accidents along there. Mindful that the biggest increase in accidents has been in people losing control at night we also decided to put reflective posts along the road edge on the bends so that the angle of the bends is more obvious. That means that the total budget for this year is being spent in Eaglescliffe ward.
Sadly, no representatives from Yarm or Kirklevington councils were present, nor any of the Conservative ward councillors representing those people, so if there are new concerns in those areas they were not raised. The issues already raised for those areas couldn't be properly discussed because there was no-one with the local background knowledge to facilitate the discussion.
We also had a discussion on the bus service for Long Newton and Elton, with a frank response from the Arriva representative present. It didn't bring much comfort to the representatives of those two villages but at least he was honest about their thinking and didn't hold out false hopes to them.

No comments: