Continual loss of life on the A1 must stop
Column by Coun Richard Davies, Lincolnshire County Council executive member for highways
The A1 is one of the most important roads in the country, linking London to Edinburgh.
And being able to offer businesses easy access to such a vital route, connecting them to the UK’s major cities and towns, is a chief selling point when attracting investment into Grantham.
But despite the economic benefits, there is a down-side – the A1 through Lincolnshire has to be one of the most dangerous spots in the country, with many people being seriously injured every year and sadly several fatal accidents occurring annually.
Also, when the road is closed or blocked, Grantham and the surrounding areas become gridlocked.
With both South Kesteven District Council and Rutland County Council having major housing plans for the future, traffic congestion can only worsen. And the situation is likely to exacerbated when the building of HS2 diverts traffic from the M1 onto the A1.
The dual carriageway is already at capacity and these extra vehicles will lead to traffic chaos. Clearly, something has to be done.
So, although the A1 isn’t part of the county council’s own road network, we’re pushing for improvements. In recent months, we’ve been talking to Highways England, who are responsible for the road.
They have done some good work with speed cameras, but fundamentally dangerous aspects remain, particularly the short length of the slip lanes and the numerous crossings and small access roads with link to it.
What’s needed is a proper plan to upgrade the road.
Highways England has already done a detailed study on the A1 and are now analysing the data to identify possible future improvements.
Of course, in an ideal world, we would like to see the road upgraded to a motorway. However, that would cost billions and it will be a challenge to get the government to make that sort of investment.
What’s needed is a co-ordinated campaign, with MPs, councils and others joining forces to make the case. To that end, earlier this week, the county council brought together colleagues from a host of local and national organisations for a ‘summit’ to discuss what needs to be done to make this road much safer for motorists. The event was well-attended, with representatives from local councils, Lincolnshire Police, the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, Transport for East Midlands and many other organisations.
The latest statistics show that there are nearly 140 accidents a year with, on average, a part closure every week and a full closure every fortnight. Lincolnshire Police report that they are dealing with over 60 incidents on the A1 every month which diverts valuable resources away from fighting crime. Elsewhere, dedicated Highways England traffic officers deal with the majority of issues on the A1 freeing up police officer time.
I’m hopeful that together we can convince the government to come up with a plan for the road that addresses congestion and capacity however the reality of this stretch of the A1 is quite startling.
Because, frankly, something needs to be done, because the continual loss of life is unacceptable.