Houghton residents reject plans to close danger A690 junction

Will Render, left, with residents opposed to the closure of the A690 Newbottle junction
Will Render, left, with residents opposed to the closure of the A690 Newbottle junction
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Traffic chiefs have gone back to the drawing board after residents gave a resounding thumbs down to plans to close a junction on an accident blackspot road.

More than 1,300 householders and businesses close to the A690 Stoneygate junction in Houghton, were asked earlier this year for their thoughts on Sunderland City Council proposals to close the central reserve on the highway.

More than three-quarters of people are against closing the junction so whatever the answer is it has to be something better than that.

Will Render

The majority of respondents – eight out of 10 – were against a proposal to completely close the central reserve.

A 50mph limit is in place on this part of the A690 and the council recently completed works at the junction to improve sight-lines.

Yet, the problems of right-turning traffic across one of the city’s busiest highways continue, as more than 30,000 vehicles pass through it every day.

From May 2012 to April 2015 there were 10 collisions at the junction – the majority (six) were from vehicles making a right-turn from the side roads.

The council is now looking at proposals to stop right-hand turns from the side roads across the A690 to minimise the risk of further collisions.

All other turning movements will remain.

The results of the engagement consultation showed:

• In total, 580 responses were received, a return of just under 39%

• 449 (77%) against the proposal

• 83 (14%) neutral

• 42( 9%) positive.

Will Render, 51, who owns a shop in Newbottle Village, has previously spoken of his concerns that the junction could be closed off totally.

“I think the consultation figures tell their own story,” said Mr Render.

“More than three-quarters of people are against closing the junction, so whatever the answer is, it has to be something better than that.

“Personally, I’d say that closing off only the right turns could work, but other people might not agree.

“The ball’s in the council’s court now.”

An update on the proposals was presented to the City Council’s Coalfield Area Committee earlier this month.

Councillor Michael Mordey, the council’s portfolio holder for city services, said: “The council conducted this engagement exercise and has listened to what the public said about the junction.

“In line with those responses, the council is looking to: A, promote road safety and reduce traffic collisions and B, keep the majority of the turning movements at the junction.

“The majority of collisions occur when drivers make right-hand turns out of the side roads across the four lanes of the dual-carriageway.

“The council needed to know what people thought and people said they don’t want to see it closed. But, people do accept that it could be changed and made safer.”

Although opposed to the initial proposal, many of those responding had concerns and supported action to improve road safety. Arrangements for further engagement are now being finalised.

Previously, the council says it has studied several options including a roundabout, traffic signals and closure, or a simpler road marking scheme.

Because of traffic volumes, and the possibility of very long tailbacks, the authority says those options are not practical.