Villagers form action group to push for A66 safety improvements

The A66 is closed following a fatal accident in November. Photo: Durham Constabulary.

Residents of a village besides the A66 have launched an action group in a bid to improve safety on the trans-Pennine route.

Villagers in Ravensworth have formed the group to highlight the dangers of the single carriageway section of the road which runs past their village.

The group has planned talks with Highways England to discuss the deficiencies on the current design of the road junction from Ravensworth village joining the A66.

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It has also scheduled meetings with the Julia Mulligan, the police and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak.

The group has been formed following years of serious accidents and near misses on the stretch of the road.

Ken Bell, from Ravensworth Parish Council, which is behind the group, said: “Our community is now of the opinion that we really have to up the ante on this matter in order to achieve genuine buy-in from the relevant authorities and agencies resulting in some agreement to take prompt, positive actions on speed control enforcement and any other relevant road safety improvement measures to minimise the risk of accidents on this part of the A66.

“We have included other nearby communities in our growing campaign and have already received support from a number of these, who share our concerns.

“In forming the action group we were extremely concerned that there was very real risk of someone being killed in the short-medium-term if nothing is done.

“Sadly, while preparing for the meeting with the Police & Crime Commissioner at the end of November, yet another extremely serious accident occurred on this section of road, resulting in the death of a driver who collided head-on with an HGV.”

Mr Bell said there was a long history of dialogue between Ravensworth Parish Council and the authorities on how to improve road safety on the approximately two-mile long stretch of single carriageway road on the A66 between Carkin Moor and West Layton.

The sections of the road to the east – Scotch Corner to Carkin Moor – and to the west – Stephen Bank to Greta Bridge – were both upgraded to dual carriageway in 2007.

The intention has been announced to upgrade the whole of the A66 to dual carriageway but it is likely that this will not take place for up to seven years from now, Mr Bell said.

The single carriageway section is a two-mile long straight section with five junctions on the south side and two junctions  on the north side.

Ravensworth has previously expressed strong concerns about the single carriageway section adjacent to our community.

Mr Bell said a plan was proposed to reduce the speed limit on the stretch but this was turned down.

In 2016 the UK Government announced the strategic intent to upgrade all remaining single carriageway sections of the A66 to dual carriageway in the planning period 2020 to 2025.

Mr Bel added: “Our community strongly welcomes this proposal, although it is recognised that it will probably not be implemented for at least five  to eight years from now.

“In the interim we have been informed that an improved road layout is under consideration for the local junction of New Lane, the road out of Ravensworth, with the A66.

“The concept of this scheme has been shared with us by Highways England, although we also fully understand that further project stages including phased funding, detailed design, land purchase and consultation will be required before this improved layout can be implemented, and hence in all likelihood a further two to three years may be required to achieve this improvement.”

The parish council says there have been ten to 12 serious accidents on the stretch in the last five years.

“In view of the ongoing concerns on traffic volumes and vehicle speeds we are have continued to express our concern in letters to Rishi Sunak, MP and to Highways England that more serious accidents will very likely continue to occur in the period of time before the upgrading to dual carriageway can be completed,” said Mr Bell.

“Given the occurrence of a number of serious accidents and in particular during 2017, we feared that a potential fatality was a realistic scenario.

“Sadly this did in fact occur on Sunday 26th November when a collision occurred between an SUV and an HGV at the West Layton junction resulting in driver of the SUV being killed.”

The driver of a Nissan Qashqai, 77-year-old Raymond Parkinson from Hartlepool died at the scene when his vehicle was in collision with a white Renault Premium HGV truck and a silver Seat Ibiza.

Rishi Sunak MP said he had arranged to meet members of the parish council and the A66 Action Group in January.

He said: “I have worked with the parish council earlier this year to secure some signage and visibility improvements at the New Lane junction and will be pleased to meet councillors and the new action group to discuss the wider issue of the speed limit on the single carriageway sections.

“While the Government has made a commitment to further upgrade this vital East-West route to dual carriageway, timings have not yet been agreed and anything that can be done to improve safety in the meantime should be considered.”


1 Comment

  1. Well done to all involved in the Ravensworth Action Group – PLEASE ensure all parties involved consider the West Layton junction – we also endure the hazard of motorists using this junction as a turning circle. On the A1 at Elkesley (a dual carriageway stretch) there is a 50 mph speed restriction in place! Traffic moving from west to east appears over the brow of the hill at speed, making it extremely difficult to exit the village of West Layton and join the A66.

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