A THREE-hour closure of the A69, following the latest in a spate of crashes on the road, has prompted renewed calls for safety improvements.
A smash on Tuesday morning involving a car and a lorry near to the Hexham West junction, known locally as Two Mile Cottages, saw the driver of the crumpled car taken to Newcastle’s RVI for treatment.
The man escaped without serious injuries, but county councillor for Hexham West, Derek Kennedy, said urgent action was needed to prevent further fatalities – with four people killed on the A69 in Tynedale last year alone.
“That junction has to be one of the worst on the A69,” he said.
“Because it’s a transition space between dual and single carriageway, it’s an incredibly fast section of road where people are taking really high risks. The way the junctions are configured is not conducive to safety at all.
“In the seven years that Guy Opperman has been our MP, not one inch of that road has been dualled and it should be, all the way from Newcastle to Carlisle.”
The ongoing campaign to dual the A69 was dealt a blow last year when Government long-term plans to dual the A66 were announced, but ministers revealed the A69 was only in line for upgrades at Bridge End roundabout in Hexham and the Styford roundabout at Corbridge.
And in the summer, a study by Highways England concluded that average speed cameras could be the key to slowing down traffic and improving road safety in areas between Hexham and Greenhead.
“Let’s be straight, it took something like 40 years to get the Haydon Bridge bypass and I do not see anything from the Government which says it is taking this seriously,” added Coun. Kennedy.
Hexham’s MP, Mr Opperman, said everything possible was being done to keep dualling high on the agenda.
“In the last month alone I have had meetings with Highways England, Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Police and the Department for Transport about the A69, more specifically, traffic calming and road safety measures in the Henshaw area,” he said.
“Work on the two roundabouts at Hexham and Corbridge is planned and will go ahead in the medium term. I will also ensure Highways England reviews this particular junction, given that this is an area where accidents seem to be continually occurring. But, the reality is, any area where drivers are negotiating a 60mph stretch of road with vehicles crossing, requires a great deal of care.”
Watch a video of traffic caught up in the diversion below.