Many of you will know that over the years I have raised safety concerns about the A 38, especially the section from Ivybridge to Marsh Mills which runs through my constituency. I have been energised each time by the sheer number of accidents and the time the road is blocked. In truth, the stretch from Marsh Mills to Trerulefoot roundabout in Cornwall is equally as dangerous, if not more so, with all of those hills and twists and turns.
I have had several meetings and exchanges over the years with Highways England which is responsible for this major road, and they have always demonstrated from hard data that this section is no more prone to collisions and crashes than any other similar highway. We have had some improvements to junctions, but nothing substantial.
In recent weeks we have had an alarming spate of accidents along this highway, from Ivybridge to Liskeard including several fatalities and total road closures. I am once again trying to persuade the Highways Agency that action needs to be taken. I realise that it is drivers not the road that cause accidents, but nonetheless, there are some very fast and dangerous parts of this road that require attention. During the summer when tourists not used to the difficult character of this dual carriageway flock down to us, the prospect of accidents is even higher.
There is talk of upgrading the A 38 to a motorway, but no significant change is imminent. Highways England are upgrading it slightly over the next ten years (and calling it an Expressway – which it already is), to improve the central barrier and tidy up one or two junctions which might help a bit. But there are no plans to straighten some of the corners and flatten some of the hills anytime soon.
So what are the solutions? The police will confirm that speed is nearly always a contributing factor to any major accident. I have asked Highways England to consider installing average speed cameras at some of the worst stretches, as they recently have at the bottom of Halden Hill. Naturally these things do not come cheap.
Plymouth Council, backed by other local authorities have recently bid for additional funds and attention from the Department of Transport to improve this road, especially given its recent safety record. I and other local MPs are strongly supporting this bid.
We continue to fight for the transport infrastructure that our region deserves.