Firms could pay for new lights at dan­ger junc­tion

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By Dan Wright

Cash-strapped coun­cil chiefs hop­ing to in­stall traf­fic lights at a no­to­ri­ous junc­tion could be forced to go cap in hand to busi­ness own­ers ask­ing them to help pay for it.

Trans­port chiefs are as­sess­ing the fu­ture of the Bar­rey Road junc­tion lead­ing to the Ash­ford Re­tail Park off the A2070 in Sev­ing­ton.

They think it will cost about £270,000 to in­stall per­ma­nent traf­fic lights and al­ter the road lay­out, but ad­mit they do not yet have the money to pay for it.

Kent County Coun­cil project man­ager Andy More­ton told a meet­ing of Ash­ford’s Joint Trans­porta­tion Board (JTB) on Tues­day how find­ing the fund­ing is prov­ing a chal­lenge.

“We are strug­gling to find the money to do the per­ma­nent works,” he said. “I do know there are a lot of dis­cus­sions in­ter­nally about the fund­ing el­e­ment, which will be the dif­fi­cult one to solve – dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing with High­ways Eng­land.

“We could get the beg­ging bowls out with the busi­ness com­mu­nity and de­vel­op­ers.”

The Ken­tish Ex­press has reg­u­larly re­ported on read­ers’ safety con­cerns about the junc­tion, which be­comes con­gested when shop­pers turn off and try to cross the dual car­riage­way. It has been de­scribed by road cam­paign­ers as a “death trap”.

Sev­eral pe­ti­tions have called for greater safety at the junc­tion, sup­ported by Kent County Coun­cil­lor Ge­orge Koowa­ree along with busi­ness lead­ers in­clud­ing Wendy Rowe from Re­taina­group, and mum Stacey-Louise Smith.

The traf­fic lights op­tion was first re­vealed in June – three months af­ter High­ways Eng­land cut the speed limit around the junc­tion to 40mph – and since then High­ways Eng­land asked con­trac­tors Vinci and Tay­lor Woodrow to re­view the traf­fic light op­tions.

They found it would cost £60,000 to in­stall tem­po­rary lights for a year, while putting in per­ma­nent sig­nals with­out chang­ing the road lay­out would cost £187,000.

The third pre­ferred op­tion – to al­ter the road lay­out and put in per­ma­nent lights – would cost £270,000.

Con­trac­tors say the best op­tion for putting per­ma­nent traf­fic sig­nals in place will be at the same time as the junc­tion 10a works, which are due to start next year if the M20 scheme is ap­proved.

Mr More­ton, who said the Bar­rrey Road im­prove­ments could still at­tract fund­ing from High­ways Eng­land, said: “I would rather our fo­cus was on the per­ma­nent traf­fic lights than the tem­po­rary ar­range­ment.

“The pres­sure is be­ing main­tained, it is be­ing taken in­cred­i­bly se­ri­ously and ev­ery­body is work­ing hard to take it to a sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sion.

“There is a lot of sup­port from Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil and High­ways Eng­land – things are mov­ing for­ward.”

Cllr Koowa­ree, of Tad­worth Road, said: “I have been wait­ing for th­ese im­prove­ments for al­most 20 years and I can wait an­other five years as long as we get it right. It is an im­por­tant is­sue.”

Bar­rey Road junc­tion on the A2070 at Sev­ing­ton In­dus­trial Es­tate. Right, our front page story on the is­sue

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