Councillors and residents have called for an urgent rethink over a set of roadworks in suburban Preston, amid reports of multiple accidents in a matter of days.Advertisement
Gas main works have closed the northbound side of Tag Lane at the junction with Tanterton Hall Road in Ingol – but the route remains open to traffic travelling the opposite way. The crossroads where the two roads meet has now become a scene of chaos, according to locals – because drivers are making incorrect assumptions about the directions from which traffic will be emerging.
Cadent – the company that is carrying out the work – has urged motorists to pay attention to the signs that have been put in place to help them navigate the temporary changes, while highways bosses have appealed to people to take “extra care”. But local representatives want new arrangements introduced before, they say, someone is badly hurt.
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Residents living close to the location have taken to social media to document the eight crashes and countless near-misses that they say have occurred since the road closure began last week. Some of them are calling for temporary traffic lights to be installed at the junction, while others are saying that drivers simply need to follow the rules of the road.
Cottam parish councillor Christine Abram believes that one sign, in particular, is causing much of the confusion. A “Road Ahead Closed” board – with a left-pointing arrow beneath it – has been sited on Tanterton Hall Road for traffic heading away from the Ancient Oak pub roundabout and towards the Tag Lane junction.
”People think Tag Lane is closed entirely [to the left] and – although they shouldn’t do this even if it was – they are driving straight across without looking that way,” Cllr Abram explained.
“Also, the visibility is bad because of the cones and barriers, so they are not seeing that traffic is coming towards them.”
Ingol and Tanterton Neighbourhood Council chair Neil Darby told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that it “beggars belief that so many accidents have been allowed to happen in such a short space of time without a change being made”.
“The local Lib Dem councillors and the neighbourhood council have been working through our local county councillor to express our deep concern at the situation and have asked for Lancashire County Council to urgently work with Cadent to make this junction safer.
“How long until one of these accidents causes a serious injury?” asked Cllr Darby, who also represents the Ingol and Cotam ward on Preston City Council.
However, one regular user of the junction blamed bad driving for the spate of accidents and close calls in recent days. Speaking to the LDRS, Hayley Keating said that she had almost been hit by a vehicle driven by someone whose manic manoeuvre had nothing to do with the road closure.
“I was coming up Tag Lane to turn left into Tanterton Hall Road and at the time there was a vehicle to the side of me, in the middle of the road, turning right – so we were all in the right position.
“Then, from the other side of Tanterton Hall Road [heading in my direction] a vehicle just flew across and cut us both up. I had to slam on, because he obviously didn’t see my car at the side of the one that was turning right. Luckily, the person behind me was [alert] or they would have run into my back.
“That was just a case of ‘going for it’ and putting your foot down – people are just doing what they want because a bit of road is closed. It’s still just like any crossroads – you should approach with caution, wait for it to be clear and then go. It’s just basic driving skills.
“There was even a vehicle that went [past the closure point] and was then having to swerve in and out of the cones,” Hayley said.
‘Don’t be a danger’
Responding to the issues raised about the operation of the junction during the works, Mark Syers, the head of Cadent’s investment planning office in the North West, said that the scheme involved “major engineering, months in the planning, with a priority to keep everyone safe”.
He added: “We agreed a traffic management plan in collaboration with Lancashire County Council. We keep this under review and will be making some changes to reinforce the directional and safety messaging.
“One big message for us to get across, though, is just how important it is for motorists to follow the instructions on the signage. It can – and will – create dangerous situations otherwise.
The traffic management is put in place to keep everyone safe – motorists, pedestrians and our team,” Mr. Syers said.
The LDRS understands that the permit for the work – which is to add extra capacity in order to ensure there’s enough gas to meet demand during the colder months – runs until mid-May, although the roadworks themselves may be modified during that period.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: “Our highways regulation team met with Cadent at the end of last week to review the way the closure on Tag Lane and Tom Benson Way is operating, and made a number of recommendations.
“This includes placing extra signs on both sides of Tanterton Hall Road before the junction with Tag Lane, saying ‘Busy junction ahead, please take care when exiting the junction’, as well as other changes to signage to ensure maximum visibility for drivers negotiating the junction.
“We are continuing to closely monitor these roadworks and would ask everyone to take extra care in this area while they are ongoing.”
Tom Benson Way is due to remain closed for around five weeks and then will reopen for the remainder of the works – meaning that the diversion via Tag Lane can be removed, which will reduce the amount of vehicles using the route.
Lancashire Police were approached for details of how many accidents had officially been reported at the Tag Lane and Tanterton Hall Road junction since the roadworks began.
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