Installation of £600k traffic signal scheme at A39 Westleigh junction expected to take around 14 weeks

WORK has started on a controversial scheme to improve road safety at an accident blackspot near Bideford.

The installation of a £630,000 traffic signal system at the notorious A39 Westleigh junction began on Monday and is expected to take around 14 weeks to complete.

The redesign of the junction by Devon County Council follows a public consultation and is going ahead despite some objections raised over potential congestion.

Northam and Bideford councils expressed a preference for a roundabout, which was one of a number of options considered and assessed for improvements to safety and ability to cope with future demand.

The report by the county council concluded that a roundabout offered relatively poor value for money and its expansion to deal with forecast traffic growth over the next 15 years would also be costly.

Traffic lights were seen as the most cost effective solution which could be upgraded more easily in future.

The junction has been the scene of a number of collisions in recent years.

According to official statistics, between 2003 and 2006, there were 16 collisions recorded, including one serious, eight slight and seven damage-only accidents.

Between January 2006 and December 2008 there were a further 15 accidents, including one serious.

The county council said three collisions had been reported to police since 2008, including one slight collision, one serious and one fatal accident.

County councillor Rodney Cann, local member for Fremington Rural, has campaigned for improvements at the junction and welcomed the scheme.

He said: “I am delighted that work has finally commenced on safety improvements that are well overdue at the junction.

“I am sure that the changes will increase safety at the junction and cut out some of the confusion that occurs there.

“My only regret is that due to opposition by some councillors the scheme was not up and running at the start of the summer season.”

Once complete the scheme will see traffic signals located on all approaches of the A39 and A386. The lights will allow right turning vehicles to turn unopposed across the main flow of traffic travelling along the A39, and also for those wishing to turn right from the A386 towards Bideford.

All turning movements will remain the same but under the safe control of the signals.

Temporary traffic lights will be in place at the site from 9.30am to 3.30pm every day. The council said these will be removed during busier peak hours, although on Monday afternoon, motorists travelling from Barnstaple to Bideford reported 45 minute delays, with traffic backed up as far as Brynsworthy.

For five days in November, the temporary traffic lights will be in place for 24 hours a day.

There are no diversions in place; however, drivers are asked to consider alternative routes if they can.