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At least 70 crashes on one Broughton crossroads as people swerve bypass

Posted on - 22nd February, 2024 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Broughton, Preston News, Roads, Transport
Traffic on Garstang Road at the Broughton crossroads
Traffic on Garstang Road at the Broughton crossroads

A Preston village crossroads has been the scene of at least 70 collisions in the space of 18 months – more than six years after a bypass was built to take the pressure off the problem junction.

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The bumps, in the centre of Broughton, have so far been mostly minor – and are being blamed on a combination of speeding and rat-running.   However, the fear is that a more serious accident could be just around the corner.

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The intersection at the heart of the village was once notorious for tailbacks at the traffic lights that used to control the point at which Garstang Road, Woodplumpton Lane and Whittingham Lane all meet.

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When the long-awaited Broughton bypass – James Towers Way – finally opened in October 2017, it was hoped that snarl-ups would be replaced with serenity.   The hated lights were dismantled on the assumption the traffic that demanded them would largely disappear.

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However, Broughton Parish Council chair Pat Hastings says that dream is still a distant one – because some motorists are inexplicably opting to swerve the new dual carriageway route which many of them must have dreamed of when they were stationary at the infamous junction.

Cllr Pat Hastings
Cllr Pat Hastings

Whereas once the lack of movement was the main issue at the crossroads, now all too many drivers are also sensing an opportunity to put their foot down – compounding the problem.

“We just want people to respect the speed limits, respect the junction and be sensible,” Cllr Hastings told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.    The parish authority is calling for traffic-calming measures like speed bumps or slowing chicanes to be installed.

All approaches to the junction are 20mph, with Woodplumpton Lane and Whittingham Lane traffic having priority.

However, speed indicator devices installed by the parish authority have recorded average speeds of almost double that limit on Garstang Road, at 37mph – and there have even been individual instances of drivers doing close to 70mph.

Accident data gathered by the parish council on the basis of local reporting puts the number of crashes in excess of 70 in just a year-and-half – compared to the four reported to police over a longer period.   According to the Crash Map website, there have been nine incidents at the junction since 2018 – all but one of them classed as “slight”.

“It’s mainly [personal] trauma and damage to cars – people are generally not injured,” Cllr Hastings explained.    “They’re not major accidents, but they are to the person in the car.

“And we don’t want a serious accident to make people listen.  The police have prosecuted one or two people for dangerous driving, but it’s not got any better.”

Some of the crashes have resulted from the ‘give way’ signs and markings on Garstang Road being either missed or ignored – a potential hangover from the pre-bypass days when that route was classified as the A6 and would have been considered the main road at the then traffic light-controlled junction.

The parish council believes a mandatory ‘STOP’ sign, rather than a ‘give way’ instruction, might make the difference, but was advised by the Department for Transport that the site was ineligible, because it did not have a restricted view.

However, Cllr Hastings says that the recently-opened, three-storey accommodation block for the over-60s – which sits on the corner of Garstang Road and Woodplumpton Lane – should change that assessment, because of the “poor line of sight” it has created.    She also claims the presence of the new facility, so close to the crossroads, makes the case for traffic-calming to assist those people entering and leaving the development.

Meanwhile, it seems that the bypass is being given a miss by some motorists no matter which direction they are travelling in.  Some of those heading north towards Barton are using Garstang Road as they traditionally would have – while others bound for Woodplumpton are taking the short stretch of Garstang Road from the Broughton roundabout and then turning left at the crossroads, rather than taking the bypass as far as Whittingham Lane.

Cllr Hastings thinks drivers’ reasoning for rat-running through the village is based on a miscalculation.

“They think it’s quicker, [but] it isn’t – it’s quicker to go round the bypass.  It’s seconds [difference], but you’re not pausing [at the crossroads if you use the bypass].

“Also, particularly in the evenings, people don’t [even] seem to know it’s there.,” the parish politician said, adding that misdirection from stanavs should not be an issue six years after the route opened.

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Cllr Hastings says the parish is not pursuing the idea of prohibiting traffic from continuing to use Garstang Road, because of the potential impact on businesses in the area.

However, she stresses that it is Broughton residents who are suffering from the current situation, because they are the ones that stick to the speed limits and use the bypass appropriately – and yet are left at risk of being involved in an accident on their doorstep as a result of the actions of other drivers.

“The bypass was called for by us – yes, it has moved traffic out of the village and yes, the village is a much nicer place.  But we’ve now got the problem of the crossroads and the speeding.”

The parish authority is currently in the process of reviewing its neighbourhood plan and has engaged a transport consultancy for advice on what action could be proposed within the refreshed document to improve safety at the junction.

What do highways bosses say?

Broughton Parish Council says it has lobbied Lancashire County Council for safety upgrades, but claims the highways authority “[does] not recognise that there is a problem”.

In response to correspondence from Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace over the issue, Lancashire County Council has said the Broughton crossroads will be reviewed as part of its 2024/25 road safety audit programme.

“Should we decide that the area would benefit from a safety scheme, such as a new chicane on Whittingham Lane, appropriate information will be shared with residents and the parish council as part of a consultation process, prior to the commencement of works,” Phil Darnell the authority’s director of highways and transport said.

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