A14 lay-bys to be closed

IAN MacKELLAR ian.mackellar@archant.co.uk LAY-BYS on the A14 in Cambridgeshire are to be closed to traffic in the new year to help prevent accidents and the delays that frustrate motorists on a daily ba

IAN MacKELLAR

ian.mackellar@archant.co.uk

LAY-BYS on the A14 in Cambridgeshire are to be closed to traffic in the new year to help prevent accidents and the delays that frustrate motorists on a daily basis.

The programme, which is set to begin in February, will see one lay-by permanently closed, 10 others will become restricted to emergencies and eight will be improved.

The closure and improvement programme is due to begin on February 11 and to have been completed before the end of April.

An A14 working group set up by then Chief Constable Tom Lloyd identified lay-bys as the third most important accident hot-spots on the road in Cambridgeshire after the junctions at Spittals and Brampton Hut, which have both had traffic lights installed and lower speed limits imposed.

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The Highways Agency says 15 per cent of all injury-accidents on the road involve lay-bys in some way - either the presence of the lay-by itself or vehicles moving in and out.

Although truckers are the principal users of the lay-bys, the move has the support of the road haulage industry. John Bridge, who is chairman of the industry body British Hauliers - and chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce - told The Hunts Post: "I would normally be fighting for places for lorries to stop, but the safety factors are absolutely vital, and lay-bys simply create problems and difficulties. They cause accidents half a mile behind a lorry pulling out.

"It's not a very long stretch of road and there are plenty of places before and after that they can use safely, and there are also service areas.

"The A14 is such a problem that the need for safety means we have to take actions even if they are unpalatable to certain people," added Mr Bridge, who lives in Great Stukeley and was a member of Mr Lloyd's working group.

He said most drivers using the road were familiar with it and planned the breaks they are legally required to take before they reached it.

"I think it's an essential safety feature that needs to be done. You can't have vehicles that can't get up speed quickly coming on to such a busy road. Some of these lay-bys are close to junctions or right by the side of the road with no proper exit or access."

The Highways Agency has not revealed detailed of which will be closed or improved, but said they would be to the east and west of Huntingdon, between Junctions 15 in west Huntingdonshire and 28 at Cambridge Services.

Improvements will involve installation of sign posts in sockets on the lay-by entry and exit tapers to prevent parking on the verges in these areas by HGVs.

A spokesman said: "The objective of the scheme is to reduce accidents on the A14 associated with lay-bys. The main causes of these accidents are heavy volumes of passing traffic on the A14, poor visibility on exit, and slow-moving HGVs being manoeuvred into and out of congested lay-bys.

"A secondary objective is to reduce damage to infrastructure in the lay-bys, caused by over-riding of the verges by HGVs.

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