Grange and Witherslack underpass closure ‘will put drivers’ lives at risk’
Last updated at 15:05, Thursday, 24 May 2012
DRIVERS will be forced to cross a dangerous dual carriageway in South Lakeland once an underpass used as a short cut is closed.
The bridleway, which runs beneath the A590 between Witherslack and Grange, will be blocked to cars within the next month.
But campaigners for its continued use were today hoping a group of council bosses could throw a lifeline to the route.
Cumbria County Council’s South Lakeland Area Committee was set to decide whether to allocate £45,000 towards a traffic light system and lighting for the bridleway.
Drivers would then be allowed to use the 30-metre long tunnel if it subsequently gains highway status.
South Lakeland District Councillor John Holmes – who also represents the Lyth Valley First Responders – said lives could be lost if motorists were forced to cross the “dangerous” A590.
“It’s absolutely vital that it remains open,” he said.
“I have some elderly residents in Witherslack who would be crippled if the underpass is closed because they are just so fearful of crossing the carriageway. But also, the first responders in the area use this shortcut to get to patients within eight minutes of a 999 call.
“Without it, the lives of patients in the area are not only being placed at risk, but also those of the first responders themselves who would face the prospect of crossing the A590 in an emergency.”
Drivers have historically used the underpass to travel between Witherslack and Grange without having to cross the A590.
It is also used by motorists from Grange who travel to the petrol station at Witherslack.
Grange resident Liz Fell explained the move to fund a traffic light system for the underpass, if given the go ahead, could help save lives.
“What people will be forced to do is the equivalent of crossing a motorway,” she said.
“It’s very, very dangerous and a monstrous thing to consider when no-one thinks it’s necessary and there exists a safe alternative.”
Mrs Fell added: “I don’t think cyclists would bother to use a traffic light but if that’s the only way to keep it open to drivers then it must go ahead.”
Cyclists’ pressure group CTC referred the use of the underpass by vehicles to the government after claiming a bike rider had been involved in a minor accident with a car in 2008.
The government then instructed Cumbria County Council to prevent motorists using the underpass for good.
Matt Hodges, a CTC spokesman, said the underpass was not intended for vehicular use and was not therefore a safe alternative to crossing the A590. He said: “We are not anti-car and if this was a safe alternative, we would have no objection. But vehicles should not be using this bridleway, it is dangerous and intimidating to cyclists.”
Mr Hodges added: “We will not object to a reasonable safety measure being installed to protect legitimate users of this route – but we can’t support some cock-eyed little scheme that just says ‘give way to cyclists’.”
First published at 13:17, Thursday, 24 May 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
Cock-eyed little scheme? Come off it, Matt! Sustrans has worked for years to get some logic into this dispute and the scheme now being proposed will work fine provided it doesn't involve barriers. Bollards yes, with adequate clearance for bikes and horses.
it would be criminal to close this underpass.people will be killed crossing the road, and the people traveling along the A590 are in danger of people pulling out in front of them. keep it open! it makes sense.