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New Forest accident blackspot Ipley Crossroads reopens

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LONG-awaited improvements to a notorious New Forest accident blackspot have been completed.

Work on Ipley Crossroads, the scene of two fatal accidents in recent years, finished on Sunday after delays caused by "technical difficulties" stretched the £500,000 realignment from the expected six weeks to 16.

However, a former parish councillor has warned the lack of signage at the site is a "recipe for disaster".

The junction finally opened on Sunday
The junction finally opened on Sunday

Cllr Mark Rolle, a former chairman of Lyndhurst Parish Council, said he recently drove over the new staggered junction and was taken aback.

Hampshire County Council has stressed they will be erected "as soon as possible".

"Really the junction opening without adequate warning signs is a recipe for disaster and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a serious accident in the next few days," said Mr Rolle.

"There are no new road layout signs in place on what is quite a significant change to the junction. It is particularly bad when returning from Hythe as the only visible sign is a ‘Think Bike’ one.

"What is there to stop motorists just driving over the road by virtue of habit? There are no signs or barriers at all, so with no prompts or guidance how on earth is everyone going to remember they cannot go straight across now?"

Mr Rolle called for "immediate action" to avoid potential accidents at the junction, which has seen two fatalities and 11 serious-injury accidents reported between January 2011 and August 2019.

Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, the county council’s executive member for highways operations, said: “I am pleased that the main important improvement works have now been completed and thank people for their patience.

“There are some further signs to go up alerting road users to the change of road layout and those will be going up as soon as possible.

“I would ask drivers travelling in the area to be aware of the revised road layout and to continue to watch for cyclists and the livestock, who will have grown used to having the road to themselves without any traffic."

As reported in the A&T, the project has involved relocating the western section of the junction 50 metres south, creating a stagger.

Approved by the national park authority, the scheme involved HCC agreeing with the verderers a land-swap elsewhere to ensure the New Forest does not lose grazing areas.

For more information about the scheme, visit www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/ipleycrossroads

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