Problems at the Stockbridge Roundabout are being caused by a ‘few drivers misreading’ the signs and the lights are safe, a senior Highways England figure has today insisted.
Peter Phillips, HE South Coast Central route sponsor, strongly denied that the Government transport company was being stubborn over an increasingly concerning situation.
He said people’s concerns over accidents and near misses because of its temporary pedestrian crossing were being listened to, but there was ‘not much more’ it could do.
Mr Phillips said: “Obviously we are aware of the concerns people are raising, we are monitoring it and have spent a lot of time on site and have put up extra signs.
“It really is a difficult situation where drivers are misreading the information they have got there.”
The lights at each point of the roundabout have been in place for two weeks, and are there while the footbridge over the A27 is closed and waiting to be replaced.
Mr Phillips said the now closed footbridge was used so much, that at Highways’ public consultation, local residents had called for a temporary crossing while it is replaced.
He said the spiral footings of the old bridge means walkers can’t get past it for a crossing further away.
Mr Phillips said: “We are aware that there are a few drivers who aren’t following the signs so you do end up with a few close calls.
“That’s something we are looking to improve but at this moment in time it’s not easy to see how much more we can do to get drivers to understand the position there.
He said: “I would say it’s as safe as we can make it. We have got something like 50,000 vehicles a day going through there.
“OK it’s not a comfortable situation that we’d like to address if we can find a way of doing it, but the actual numbers of people having an actual conflict are very small. But it is too many.”
He said making the roundabout fully signalised ‘would cause considerable congestion’, removing the lights completely would leave Stockbridge and Donnington residents ‘isolated’, and finding a suitable location for a temporary footbridge would be difficult, adding that there wasn’t ‘one off the shelf we could get at the moment’.
“All these things we’ve considered,” he said.
After a woman was injured in a crash there on Saturday, Mr Phillips was told if there is a serious or fatal collision there, fingers would be pointed directly at Highways.
He replied: “In terms of what’s there, it really is as far as we can make it in terms of signing, is very clear and we are most certainly looking and considering any possible options that come forward that are appropriate.
“But at this moment, in time the layout that we’ve got there is the only means that we can provide a crossing point.”
He added: “It’s not stubbornness on our part. It’s about having an appropriate balance for the needs of the road users (and pedestrians).
“We are most certainly not ignoring comments but it is a question of what more we can do?”
He also denied this had further damaged Highways’ reputation locally after its major A27 improvement scheme was beset with problems before finally being abandoned.
“We are trying to work with the Build A Better A27 Group and it will be interesting to see what they come forward with, we do look forward to receiving that for the Chichester area.”