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Is it time to cut the speed limit on the A31?
11:51am Monday 29th October 2012 in News
What are the solutions to ease the number of serious accidents on the A31 across the New Forest.
Cutting the speed limit :
CAMPAIGNERS say the limit should be reduced to 50mph in a bid to cut the accident rate.
Vehicles can currently travel down Poulner Hill at 70mph. The same limit applies to the eastbound and westbound slip lanes at Ringwood, even though drivers are likely to encounter people using two pedestrian crossings.
New Forest councillors raised the issue in 2008 and called for a 50mph limit between Ringwood and Picket Post. But the Highways Agency rejected their plea.
A spokesman said: “We have looked into the causes of accidents on the A31.
There are a number of factors involved and speed is not one of them.”
Police say many of the crashes are caused by people driving too close to the vehicle in front or overtaking in a dangerous manner.
Any new call to lower the limit is unlikely to make much headway unless police agree to support it.
Widening the road:
ADDING an extra lane in each direction would be hugely expensive and highly controversial because of its impact on the New Forest National Park.
The A31 occupies a massive strip of land across the Forest and environmental groups would almost certainly oppose any additional loss of countryside.
Peter Roberts, chairman of the New Forest Association, said: “The A31 already has a huge impact on the Forest in terms of noise and disturbance. Increasing the width of the road is not the way forward without some form of compensation.”
Mr Roberts said part of the road could be concealed in an artificial tunnel.
“It would contain the A31 as well as benefitting commoners’ stock. Animals could walk over the top, enabling them to move around the Forest more freely,” he said.
The New Forest National Park Authority is one of the organisations that would have to be consulted.
UPGRADING other routes through the New Forest National Park would also be opposed on environmental grounds.
Encouraging more traffic to use the A35 Lyndhurst to Christchurch road would worsen the congestion in Lyndhurst, already one of the area’s biggest bottlenecks.
And villages north of the A31 would fight tooth and nail to preserve the peace and tranquillity they currently enjoy.
The B3080 Godshill to Cadnam road is one of the most scenic and unspoilt routes in the district.
Villagers say any significant increase in traffic would destroy the area’s character.
And the already high number of animal accidents on the B3080 would rise sharply if more vehicles started using the narrow unlit road.