INJURY accidents at Spittals Interchange in Huntingdon have been slashed by two-thirds since traffic lights became operational 18 months ago. Five people were slightly hurt in the year from March 2006, compared with 15 accidents the previous year, involvi
INJURY accidents at Spittals Interchange in Huntingdon have been slashed by two-thirds since traffic lights became operational 18 months ago.
Five people were slightly hurt in the year from March 2006, compared with 15 accidents the previous year, involving one serious injury and five minor injuries.
The £1.32million scheme, which included widening some of the approaches to the junction to reduce the length of queues, opened early in February 2006.
The lights had been due to be ready before Christmas 2005, but the work was delayed by very severe weather in December.
Accidents at the junction reached a peak between March 2004 and February 2005, when there were 25 personal injury accidents, 21 of them involving serious injuries. That was seriously worse than the previous 12 months, when there were 21 accidents, but only two resulting in serious injury.
The news was welcomed by the Highways Agency - which owns that part of the road network and commissioned the junction improvements - road safety experts and the Cambridgeshire business community.
Steve Davy, Highways Agency A14 route performance manager, said: "Any personal injury accident on the network is regrettable, but the improvement scheme has reduced the number of reported injury incidents, improved safety and the traffic flow on the A14 Spittals interchange. And that is all good news.
"We thank drivers for responding positively to the changes at the interchange.
"The signals encourage vehicles to slow down, particularly HGVs, when approaching and going through the junction, and have reduced the amount of traffic queuing back on to the A14."
Cambridgeshire County Councillor John Reynolds added: "Cambridgeshire has seen a record low in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.
"This has been due to close partnership working between the various partners, including the Highways Agency and the police.
"Safety on the A14 is a concern for us all and I welcome the news that the safety scheme at the Spittals Interchange has had such a dramatic reduction in accidents.
"I also look forward to seeing details of the planned further improvements for the A14."
County road safety officer Debbie Maith attributed the improvement in the safety record to traffic approaching the junction more slowly. "Also, I think the change in the camber on part of the roundabout has probably helped. It's very welcome news," she said.
John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, who uses the A14 regularly between his home in Great Stukeley and his office in Cambridge, welcomed the safety improvement, but said the lights at Spittals and those installed more recently at Brampton Hut had moved eastbound morning peak congestion from the junctions to the stretch between Huntingdon and Godmanchester. "It becomes congested much more quickly there now," he added.
But Mr Bridge is a convert to the scheme. When work was about to start, he was so sceptical about the lights' ability to reduce congestion that he offered to give £500 of his own money to charity if proved wrong.
When readers of The Hunts Post declared overwhelmingly that their regular journey times had improved as a result of the lights, he was as good as his word and, last spring, presented his cheque to the Saxongate Appeal in Huntingdon town centre.