A new road layout introduced as part of a multi-million roundabout scheme has been slammed as ‘lunacy’ after a spate of accidents.
The A56 Rising Bridge roundabout has been branded a ‘death-trap’ by drivers who claim that new road markings are unclear, and motorists are confused about where they should give way as traffic lights have not yet been switched on.
Hyndburn’s MP Graham Jones told the Observer that he has written to Highways England (HE) after he was informed of a series of crashes at the roundabout this month - five of which he described as ‘near fatal’.
Highways England, who are responsible for the £4.5 million scheme which finished in December - three months after the original August deadline. New traffic lights at the site have not yet been switched on, however, and temporary signs are currently in place warning people about this and of the changes to the road.
Mr Jones said: “I have been contacted by numerous people about problems with the road markings and the flow road that are leading to accidents.
“One of the accidents was truly horrific and this is a matter of urgency now. What we must avoid is a fatal accident, and all drivers must take care to use the roundabout with extreme caution until this issue is resolved with Highways England.”
Lancashire Police said they could not corroborate the number of accidents this month, however on January 7 a motorcyclist lost a leg after police said he ‘failed to negotiate’ the roundabout at the junction and ‘collided with street furniture’.
Michael Atherton, of Rising Bridge Road, described the current situation as ‘lunacy’.
The 65-year-old said: “It’s a death trap. There has been almost a crash a week since Christmas - it just doesn’t work. The changes have made it ten times more unsafe than it was before. There are two tyre tracks from a wagon which went straight across the roundabout and mowed across a field. It is really dangerous.
“We shouldn’t have to ‘get used to it’ - it should already be safe.”
He added: “It’s just been chaos from start to finish, all we wanted in the first place was a footpath over the road and that wouldn’t have taken ten months.”
An HE spokeswoman said: “When the new intelligent traffic lights are switched on, they will use sensors in the road to control the flow of vehicles through the roundabout to improve safety.
“Currently, temporary signs warn drivers that the traffic lights are not operational, and that the road layout is new.
“‘Give Way’ signs are in place to tell drivers to check for traffic before proceeding. Safety is our top priority and we will carefully consider any issues raised by the local MP.”
The calls came as police revealed that a woman suffered a hand injury after a collision involving a car and a van near the roundabout.
Police were called to the northbound carriageway of the A56 between the roundabout and the junction with the M65 at 5.50pm on Tuesday, January 17.
The collision involved a white van and a small red car and a female driver suffered a minor hand injury. The road was closed for a short time with traffic being diverted through Accrington.