New A285 safety measures ‘make the road more dangerous’

Derek Stewart Smith who is  concerned  the work that has been carried out on the A285 at the Eartham turn causes cars to veer into the centre of the road  ks170812
Derek Stewart Smith who is concerned the work that has been carried out on the A285 at the Eartham turn causes cars to veer into the centre of the road ks170812

Measures to tackle safety issues on what has been named ‘Britain’s most dangerous stretch of road’ have only made driving more hazardous claims a civil engineer.

Derek Stewart Smith, now retired and living in Graffham, spent 40 years designing main roads for highways authorities and the department for transport.

And he is concerned about a new ‘bulge’ that has been built out into the A285 at its junction with the road to Eartham.

He believes the money would be better spent on improving sight lines on Duncton Hill where serious accidents have occurred.

“It is to me a travesty to waste money making the corner more dangerous,” he told the Observer.

It is one of several measures planned after West Sussex County Council’s highways department received £1m to tackle issues on the 12 mile stretch of the A285 between Petworth and Chichester.

Mr Stewart Smith said the Eartham junction did not need any work except for the removal of some trees to improve visibility. “I think the new safety measures will actually make matters worse,” he told the Observer.

He said it was now necessary to slow to 20mph to make the corner.

“Traffic is coming downhill from the Petworth direction at 60mph. If you have to slow to 20mph and brake hard it has a telescope effect for the people behind who have less distance after coming round the bend further back and could end up hitting people in front of them.

“They also have to swing out into the road to make the corner which poses a danger for traffic waiting to come out of the junction onto the A285.

“I can see an accident happening very quickly because they won’t make it round the corner and will end up the other side of the carriageway on the road to Eartham.

“Spending money here is unnecessary. There is no reason to slow down more to get round the corner, there has never been accident here, as far as I know, because of excessive speeds.”

The road was named ‘most dangerous’ in 2014 and again last November.

According to the 2014 Road Safety Foundation survey in 2014 it had seen a 16 per cent increase in fatal and serious crashes at junctions, running off the road and even head-on collisions. It said ‘more far reaching interventions’ were needed to address the dangers.

West Sussex County Council’s (WSCC) highways officers say the ‘bulge’ in the road is designed to lower the speed of traffic.

A spokesman said: “The buildout’s purpose is to slow vehicles exiting the southbound A285 into Eartham Lane.

“A clearly defined left turn is now required. The kerbed buildout does not reduce any width.

“The extent of the buildout is marked with a series of reflective verge marker posts, and ‘New Road Layout Ahead’ signs have been installed to make drivers aware of the changes.”

Other work to be carried out includes widening the road from Halnaker to Upwaltham, scene of several fatal and serious accidents, by half a metre on either side.

Engineers will also install improved audible lining which makes a vibrating noise to warn drivers they are on the edge of the road. There will also be other safety improvements to some junctions and bends.

Announcing £1m had been received from the government, WSCC said it was the first phase of funding. It had been given the opportunity to make further bids.

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