“The road is a highway to death, a monument to muddled and inept planning, a cruel indictment of successive county councils and Governments that have refused to face facts or even listen.”
These words from former Free Press editor Clive Brown launched a campaign by our sister newspaper, the Spalding Guardian, for “urgent action” to either repair or replace the A1073 between Spalding and Peterborough.
It took almost 17 years for a £80.3 million, 13.5-mile single carriageway that left an 81-year-old woman from Spalding dead and three others injured after a three-vehicle crash on Wednesday.
Dave Gill of Harvester Way, Crowland, said: “The design of the A16 between the B1357 (at Cowbit) and Eye Road (Peterborough) roundabouts has given me cause for concern ever since it was opened in October 2011.
“The main problem is the lack of contrast between the road, landscape and vehicles, the net effect being that it is very difficult to see approaching traffic and/or determine its speed or where the road bends are.
“With the addition of the new homes being built in Crowland, there is the not unreasonable assumption that the quantity of traffic using the A16 will substantially increase, further adding to the dangers currently faced by Crowland commuters.”
The new A16 replaced the old A1073, branded by magistrate David Riddington in January 1994 as “this wretched and narrow road built on a bank”.
Parish and district councillor Bryan Allcock said: “The A1073 was the main arterial route to the southern part of Lincolnshire, but the road was unstable and the fire service was constantly out, clearing up the results of fatal accidents.
“The parish council resolved to put the A1073 on every council agenda and continued to lobby the government and county council until it gradually seemed to achieve some importance.”
The need for the new A16 became unquestionable as, at its peak, the old A1073 carried between 11,200 and 17,800 vehicles per day, according to Lincolnshire County Council.
Between 2002 and 2007, there were 125 accidents and six fatalities, compared to 103 accidents and seven deaths between 1990 and 1993.
Coun Alcock said: “The road became part of Lincolnshire County Council’s building programme and Crowland was extremely grateful that we got the new road because the old one was developing into an absolute death trap.
“However, we’ve now got to work to make it safer because, unfortunately, the junctions at James Road and Thorney Road, together with the speed through the junctions, creates a potentially dangerous combination.”
Since the Spalding to Crowland stretch of the A16 opened in August 2010, eight people have died, 14 people seriously injured and 37 slightly injured, including Wednesday’s fatal crash.
David Ringham, chairman of Crowland Parish Council, said: “It’s a tragic situation for the families involved and everybody feels like it’s a personal thing when something like this happens.
“I’ve only taken on the chairmanship this week and it’s a really awful situation to have to take on.
“But the parish council will certainly look at developing discussions further with other agencies because we don’t want anything like this happening again.”
Crowland county councillor and ex-firefighter Nigel Pepper said: “Having dealt with such incidents at first hand, I can relate to how tragic this is and it saddens me greatly to know there was a fatality and seriously injured people on Wednesday.
“Whether or not the junction was a contributory factor, we all know that the A16/B1166 junction and the A16/B1040 junctions are both unsatisfactory. A united front from Crowland would clearly carry some weight, but we must also consider others such as the Gedney Hill and Whaplode Drove areas as well.
“With the above in mind, I hope to see our MP John Hayes sometime over the next few days to discuss this matter further.”
The people of Crowland would agree with former Stamford and Spalding MP, now Baron Quentin Davies, who said in 1993: “The dangers are very real and the need for improvements is urgent.
“It is not just economic development and employment stake, but human lives as well.”