PLANS for improvements to an accident blackspot on the A39 near Bideford will go on show to the public next week. Devon County Council is currently preparing the final designs for a £630,000 traffic light scheme at the Westleigh Junction before starting a

PLANS for improvements to an accident blackspot on the A39 near Bideford will go on show to the public next week.

Devon County Council is currently preparing the final designs for a £630,000 traffic light scheme at the Westleigh Junction before starting a consultation on Monday.

Plans will be displayed at Barnstaple Library until Friday, September 24 before going on show at Bideford Library from Monday, September 27 until Friday, October 8.

The proposals have been drawn up following a recent comprehensive safety review which considered a number of options.

A previous safety review of the site in 2007 found that the main problems were traffic turning right from the A386 on to the A39, and traffic turning right from the A39 to the A386 across eastbound traffic. Between 2004 and 2008 there was an average of 2.6 injury accidents per year at the junction. A significant proportion of accidents at the junction involve older drivers.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "Concerns have been raised over safety at Westleigh Junction for some time, particularly for turning vehicles, so it is right that this is addressed.

"The junction met the design standards at the time it was constructed, but over the years it has posed problems because of its layout and as a consequence there have been a number of accidents.

"Interactive signing was installed as a remedial measure after the 2007 review, but there have since been further accidents at the junction. Our recent review has found that safety can be significantly improved with the installation of traffic lights and we now need the help of local people to take this opportunity to finalise the design."

Traffic lights are seen to be the cost effective solution at the junction as they can be upgraded to cope with future traffic growth forecast in the Local Development Framework on which North Devon Council and Torridge District Council are currently consulting. This envisages considerable growth in housing and employment at Bideford, East-the-Water and Barnstaple and it is anticipated that traffic on the A39 will increase significantly during the next 15 years.

Cllr Rodney Cann, Devon County Councillor for Fremington Rural, said: "This has been a very controversial junction with an awful accident record and I'm delighted the county council is taking some action on this. It's not the solution that was expected but it is a solution that will work and improve safety.

"This will help to simplify what is a very confusing layout which has been a major factor in contributing to the accidents, particularly among elderly drivers."

It is expected that the scheme will be constructed during 2011.

The plans will be available to view online at www.devon.gov.uk/westleighjunction.