Delayed council report on A414 Longabout black spot fails to commit to improvements

Cllr Chris Brazier at the longabout, Colney Heath.

Cllr Chris Brazier at the longabout, Colney Heath. - Credit: Archant

The wheels of bureaucracy are spinning as slowly as ever, with the results of a traffic signal trial at a dangerous junction finally released – two years later.

Cllr Chris Brazier at the longabout, Colney Heath.

Cllr Chris Brazier at the longabout, Colney Heath. - Credit: Archant

Residents have continually called upon Herts county council to make drastic improvements to a notorious blackspot, the longabout on the A414, the scene of fatalities and many collisions.

In March 2015, following complaints, a traffic signals trial was initiated at the dangerous Colney Heath junction.

The junction itself was installed over two decades ago when there was far less traffic.

Although the council has previously promised improvements, these have so far failed to materialise, leaving local residents - including district councillor for Colney Heath, Chris Brazier - fuming.

In 2012, after a woman was convicted of causing death by careless driving, the council said it was investigating altering the road layout, including splitting the intersection into two separate roundabouts.

Last week, the “A414 Colney Heath Longabout Traffic Signals Trial (March 2015) report” was finally released.

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Cllr Brazier said: “It has taken two years for three people to write the report, and it is just seven A4 pages of mostly pictures, with still no commitment for lights in the near future.

“The recommendations are ambiguous – traffic signals may be installed as part of the A414 improvements, but that could be at any time.”

The longabout traffic signals trial report said:

• The longabout is located along the A414/A405 corridor connecting the A1(M) at Hatfield with the M25/M1/A405 junction complex near Bricket Wood. The A414/A405 route also provides an important diversion route to the M25 when there is an incident or planned works that may affect this part of the motorway through Herts.

• The long sides of the circulatory carriageway connect up three side roads: Colney Heath Lane, Colney Heath High Street and Smallford Lane at one single junction.

• Inappropriate speed was a contributory factor for just three out of 10 ‘personal injury collisions’, involving A414 traffic at the Smallford Lane end of the junction.

• However, drivers misjudging speed of, or distance to, another vehicle was a factor in half of such collisions at this end of the longabout.

• Most collisions at the Smallford Lane arm occurred during daytime ‘off-peak’ traffic flow.

• As a result of the collision analysis, a new approach was put forward to introduce traffic signal control at the junction’s centre, where the village’s High Street meets the A414.

• But, as the outcome of the traffic modelling was inconclusive, a short term trial of signalling was conducted to observe the effect in a live traffic situation.

• The most noticeable change to carriageway flows was during morning peak time, with “a significant length of slow moving traffic observed between the exit from the A1(M) roundabout and the longabout”.

• By increasing the ‘green time’ for the A414 traffic travelling through the Colney Heath junction, the extent of this slow moving traffic was ‘significantly reduced’.

• Also, the temporary signals were capable of “adjustment to cope with the aftermath of an incident affecting traffic flow on the M25”.

The report’s authors have recommended the county council consider possible advance works, including upgrading signage on the central island and amending road lane markings to provide consistent information.

Longer term measures include installation of permanent full-term signal controls at the centre of the longabout junction, with a new carriageway route constructed through the centre, opposite the High Street arm.

The council has yet to discuss the findings but Cllr Brazier wants immediate action.