THE verderers are being urged to agree a land swap deal to clear the way for major safety work at a notorious New Forest junction where there have been two fatal accidents.
Hampshire County Council wants to realign Ipley Crossroads, near Beaulieu, to make it staggered and prevent vehicles driving straight across.
In a presentment to the June meeting of the Verderers’ Court, HCC claimed that drivers, especially locals who regularly use the C97 road, have ignored newly installed ‘Stop’ signs and crossed without slowing down.
Other changes have failed to cut the number of collisions and, after looking at alternative ideas such as introducing a roundabout, chicanes or road humps, it concluded the best solution would be a staggered junction.
HCC’s statement said: “The junction has been the site of multiple collisions, particularly between cars and cyclists, resulting in fatalities and life-changing injuries.
“It can be hard to spot cyclists close to the junction due to the open layout of the junction, which allows decisions about traversing to be made early, and due to the lack of visibility of smaller road users whose presence can be obscured by a vehicle’s windscreen pillar.”
The scheme drawn up the highways department would see the construction of a new 102-metre section of carriageway on the approach of the C97 from the west.
That would join the Beaulieu Road at an angle of 90 degrees, 50 metres south of the current crossroads.
The new layout, involving a T-junction for traffic travelling east or west on the C97, would mean that instead of traffic being able to drive straight across, they would be forced to slow down to join C63 Beaulieu Road.
In its application to the verderers, HCC said slowing vehicles would also be a “benefit to livestock in the area”.
It added: “The proposed scheme minimises impact on the Forest and would cause least disruption to traffic.”
An area of Forestry England land of 663 square metres would be needed for the new carriageway. Although the Forest would gain back 591 metres, that would still leave a shortfall of 72 square metres of grazing land.
To make up for that, HCC proposed to return to open forest an additional area of carriageway elsewhere, likely to be at Wilverley Cross, near Sway, through removal of one side of the triangular junction.
That would produce an overall net gain to the Forest of 771 square metres, it said, which might be used by HCC as a “land bank” to compensate for future highway schemes.
The verderers were told that some temporary road closures during construction would unavoidable but these would be kept to a minimum. If approval was given, work could start in October.
“The highways authority considers that the proposed scheme would result in the maximum increase in road safety and cause the least detriment to the Forest,” HCC declared, and urged the verderers to make a decision as soon as possible.