A COUNCILLOR has slammed the news that a danger junction on a busy Wearside road could be closed off for good, labelling it a “cheap and shoddy option” that could cost lives.
The Echo reported earlier this week how residents and businesses will be asked about closing the A690/High Lane junction at Stoneygate, in Houghton, as part of a proposed £150,000 scheme.
The route provides access to Newbottle for drivers on its west side and to Warden Law and Ryhope to the south and east.
But the area has become synonymous with road smashes and council bosses say that between November 2011 and October last year there were 11 crashes which caused personal injuries.
A report from the council has suggested that all right-turning traffic movements should now be stopped.
About 30,000 vehicles pass through the junction each day and with the possibility of long tailbacks, transport chiefs argue that it is not practical to introduce traffic signalling.
The council had looked at a roundabout previously, but was unable to secure access and permissions from landowners.
Coun Colin Wakefield, an independent who serves Copt Hill ward, says that closing the junction is not the right option and also claimed it could cost lives.
“This has gone on for 10 years now and there have been five or six fatalities,” said Coun Wakefield.
“We need to solve the problem properly and not just use the soft option of closing it off.
“If the junction was closed off, an ambulance coming from Sunderland going to Newbottle would have to detour down into Houghton then go through Newbottle Street or come back up the A690 and turn in left.
“We’ve said before that the junction at the park and ride at Carrville in Durham with traffic lights is a basically identical junction and as a minimum that’s what we wanted.
“The ideal situation would be a roundabout but I don’t think we’ll get that now.”
Coun Wakefield added: “I think if closing the junction goes ahead this will end up costing lives indirectly.
“That extra journey time for an ambulance or fire engine for example could cost a life.
“It’s just a cheap, shoddy option.”
A report on the junction is being examined by the city council’s Highways and Planning Committee on Wednesday, February 18.
Subject to the committee meeting, the council could begin formal consultation at the end of this month.