Long-running safety concerns surrounding a major Northumberland roundabout are set to be tackled by a new improvement scheme.
The North Seaton roundabout on the A189 Spine Road, near Ashington, will see several safety measures introduced, with funding allocated from Northumberland County Council’s 2015-16 Local Transport Plan programme.
A recent study into accident problems at the roundabout supported the need for a significant investment to further reduce the risk of accidents occurring. The scheme will build on existing lower-cost safety improvements introduced in recent years.
The safety scheme will provide significant changes such as the introduction of a 50mph speed limit at the approaches, exits and circulatory carriageway of the roundabout; road-marking improvements to provide a three-lane spiral layout on the roundabout circulatory carriageway to replace an existing simple two-lane road marking layout; new lane destination road markings and signs to direct road users into correct lanes when approaching, circulating and exiting the roundabout; lengthening the existing two-lane approach to the roundabout on the B1334 North Seaton arm through amendments to existing road markings; and installation of two-metre, willow panel fence screening to restrict entry visibility (for vehicles approaching via the B1334 North Seaton arm) to a distance which is in accordance with national standards.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “It is anticipated that the scheme will make a significant impact in reducing road accidents at this roundabout which has seen a number of incidents in recent years.
"Although the proposals will be a significant change to the existing layout, as long as road users adhere to the reduced speed limit and follow the instruction given by new road markings and signs, the roundabout should operate much more safely.”
Local county councillor Jim Lang said: “I welcome these changes to the roundabout; it has long had a history of accidents and incidents. These new changes if followed by users should improve the current poor safety record and help traffic flow better.”
Data showed that 24 personal injury accidents occurred at the roundabout between 2012 to 2014. From January to June 2015, a further nine were reported.
Analysis of the data suggested that accidents had occurred due to a number of reasons including excessive speed when entering, circulating and exiting the roundabout leading to loss of control; side-swipe and lane-changing accidents due to wide circulatory lanes and lack of direction to road users provided by existing road markings and signs; nose-to-tail accidents, on the B1334 North Seaton arm, due to approaching drivers looking right to identify gaps in traffic before entering the roundabout and then failing to observe that the vehicle ahead had stopped to give way; and failure to give way collisions, at the B1334 North Seaton arm, between road users entering the roundabout and vehicles circulating, mostly due to misjudgement of circulatory speeds or the intended exit of circulating vehicles due to the close proximity of close exits from the roundabout.
Works will begin on Monday, November 2, and, depending on the weather, will be complete within two weeks. In order to minimise disruption during this period, works will take place at night between the hours of 8pm and 6am with lane closures and a 30mph speed restriction from November 2 to 7, followed by a full road closure of the roundabout at night from November 9 to 14 with diversions in place.
During the works period, road users are reminded to proceed with care, drive at the reduced speed limit and be aware that works will be ongoing for the two weeks prior to the scheme becoming fully operational. Further details of the scheme can be viewed on the council’s website.