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Agenda item

A67 Startforth - 40mph Speed Limit - Report of Corporate Director, Regeneration and Local Services

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services which proposed the relocation of the commencement of a 40mph speed limit on the A67, Startforth. The proposal would see the 40mph limit commence 50 metres further to the north-east towards Startforth Park where the verges were wider. This would allow the carriageway to be widened to accommodate a gateway feature. (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

The Committee were informed that the County Council had already initiated a number of road safety measures on the A67 between Bowes and Barnard Castle, with further improvements planned in the future. The improvements would be subject to the success of a funding bid that the council had submitted through the Department for Transport's (DfT) £175m Safer Roads fund. The fund was available to address roads that had been assessed as a high risk section of road. The area in question fell within one of the country’s top 50 high risk areas. Funding had also been made available through the local transport plan to support this project.

 

As part of the overarching road safety project it was proposed to create 30mph and 40mph gateway features on the A67 at Startforth. The gateway features would ensure that signage was more conspicuous and more visible to motorists with the aim of reducing vehicular speeds on the A67.

 

The Committee then received a presentation which comprised the following:

 

·         location plan of the area;

·         40mph proposal; and

·         Images of the Bowes Road area.

 

(for copy see file of Minutes).

 

No objections had been received from local members. The Senior Committee Services Officer informed the Committee that Councillor R Bell was unable to be present at the meeting and had sent an email expressing his support for the proposal detailed in appendix two of the report.

 

The Strategic Traffic Manager informed the Committee that the proposals were relatively minor in nature, would allow for a more physical, substantial gateway and believed that the measures would have more of an impact.

 

One objection had been received to the proposal from the neighbouring Barnard Castle Town Council. The Town Council felt that the current 40mph speed limit should be reduced to 30mph and subsequently the current 30mph speed limit be reduced to 20mph. The town council also considered that reducing the speed limit on the outskirts of Barnard Castle Town within the Startforth area would reduce traffic speeds through the town centre.

 

The Committee then listened to representations made by the Vice-Chairman of Barnard Castle Town Council. The Councillor explained that the area comprised many road junctions on a very fast road which served as one of the main feeder routes to the A66 between Durham and Cumbria. Traffic levels were increasing constantly as a result of new housing development with further potential for additional development in the future.

 

The Strategic Traffic Manager informed the Committee that the proposals sought to decrease vehicle speeds. The speed limit around the estate junctions was typically 30 mph which drivers would usually come to expect. Only in exceptional circumstances would a 20mph speed limit be introduced, providing it was a viable option. In this particular case it was considered that a 20mph speed limit would not be a viable solution. The recorded ‘mean average speed’ on the A67 within the current 30mph speed limit was 33.7mph and could not be considered for a 20mph speed limit.

 

Councillor Rowlandson informed the Committee that he often passed through the location and explained that the rural nature of the area meant that the current 40mph speed limit was difficult to enforce. In relation to the comments made by the representative of Barnard Castle Town Council, Councillor Rowlandson felt that the suggestion of a 20mph in the area at the point concerned would simply not be enforceable by the authorities.

 

Councillor Rowlandson expressed his support for the scheme due to the high risk nature of the area and given the fact that there was government funding available. He felt that the proposal would make a real difference in bringing about reduced vehicle speeds and improve highway safety. Councillor Rowlandson moved the recommendation in the report.

 

In response to a query from Councillor J Turnbull regarding the traffic islands, the Strategic Traffic Manager confirmed that whilst the road would be widened, it would have a narrowing effect for road users. Councillor Turnbull seconded the recommendation.

 

Resolved

The Committee unanimously agreed that, having considered the objection, recommended that the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services proceed with the Traffic Regulation Order to make the speed limit changes as per the plan in Appendix 2 of the report.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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