This time next year, Crowland might pause for a moment to mark the tenth anniversary of work starting on the area’s £80.3 million A16 bypass.
A replacement for the notorious A1073 Spalding to Peterborough road, the 22km (13.7-mile) stretch of road was seen by county highways officials as an answer to the so-called “red route” due to its high nunber of road crashes.
But Monday’s double-fatal collision between a car and a lorry at the roundabout where the new A16 meets with James Road and Peterborough Road has reopened wounds stretching back at least 30 years.
Coun Nigel Pepper, Lincolnshire County Council member for Crowland, said: “Being a former member of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service and dealing with incidents first-hand on the A16, it concerns and distresses me every time I hear of a road traffic collision on this road.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to the bereaved families of the two fatalities concerned and I also take this opportunity to express my thanks and gratitude to the emergency services that dealt with this incident.
“As speed has been a contributory factor in the majority of incidents on this road, the introduction of average speed cameras is welcomed and this has had a noticeable effect on slowing down the traffic.
“However, this incident was outside the camera zone and whether or not speed was a factor, I brought the matter to the attention of the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership at on Monday, suggesting that the average speed camera zone should have been extended to the county boundary.
“I continue to have serious concerns and also voice my constituents’ concerns that traffic levels and speed have now increased on James Road since the introduction of the A16 average speed cameras.
“This is in an attempt by drivers to avoid the cameras by using it as a ‘rat-run’ to beat the traffic flow on the A16.
“Peak-time morning commuter traffic travelling towards Peterborough can now be seen backing up at considerable distances from the Crowland roundabout on both the A16 and James Road.
The average speed cameras (on the A16 in Crowland) have made a difference, resulting in speeds on the road generally appearing to have been reducedCoun Nigel Pepper, Lincolnshire County Council member for Crowland and Whaplode
“This needs some serious consideration by Lincolnshire County Highways Department.”
The £200,000 scheme to cut speeds on the A16 by installing six cameras that measure the time taken by vehicles to travel between the cameras was piloted by Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership (LRSP) last November.
It showed that, over a 24-hour period, 145 vehicles had exceeded the speed limit “by a margin that would have led to prosecution if the system had been fully operational”, according to LRSP spokesman John Siddle.
He added: “The A16 Crowland bypass was completed in 2010 and it has been the site of 17 serious and eight fatal collisions.
“Now that the average speed camera system is fully tested, we can start processing offences and we will be doing so with immediate effect.
“The system transmits the offences, in real time, to a control centre where they are checked and compiled before being forwarded to Lincolnshire Police’s Central Ticket Office where paperwork is produced and sent to the vehicle owners.”
The complication with Monday’s crash in which a woman in her 70s and a man both died is that its location is right on the Lincolnshire County Council (LCC)/Peterborough City Council boundary.
A LCC highways spokesman said: “We are continually monitoring the A16 Crowland bypass and highways officials have made a number of visits to the site.
“An average speed camera system has recently been installed in a bid to improve safety, however, it is too early to gauge the impact this has had.
“We have had contact with the Department for Transport (DfT) and will continue to explore whether any further improvements should be made.”
Talks between LCC and DfT officials were sparked by the death of Sheila Slater (81), of Holbeach Drove, in a three-vehicle collision at the A16/B1166 “staggered junction” in May 2015.
An inquest into Mrs Taylor’s death, conducted by former South Lincolnshire Senior Coroner Professor Robert Forrest last March, led to him writing to the DfT with concerns about the junction.
At the time, Professor Forrest said: “There’s a problem with so-called staggered junctions in Lincolnshire and there have been an awful lot of fatalities associated with them.
“Therefore, I decided that I would produce some evidence for the Secretary of State for Transport because when something comes out of an inquest that, if uncorrected, will put people at continued risk of death, the coroner has a duty to report the matter to somebody who can do something about it.
“Roads are dangerous so with the support of LCC, we hope to get some money out of the Government to do the necessary work.”
Roundabouts, turning lanes and speed cameras have all been used to make the A16 safer.
But Monday’s tragic crash has again highlighted the challenge of keeping drivers safe on South Holland’s road.
Coun Jim Astill, South Holland District Council member for Crowland, said: “As a regular user of the road between Crowland and Cowbit, I can say that the average speed cameras have significantly reduced speeds since going live last December.
“There also appears to have been a reduction in the number of vehicles overtaking.
“Unfortunately, the incident on Monday occurred outside of the location covered by the cameras.
“But even so, cameras alone don’t address the safety concerns with the two main junctions at Crowland and one negative with the cameras is that they increase the amount of vehicles using the old A1073/James Road route.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Britain continues to have some of the safest roads in the world but every death is a tragedy and we are determined to do more.
“Councils are best placed to decide on how best to ensure roads in their area are safe for everyone.
“Lincolnshire County Council is receiving more than £180 million from us to maintain, upgrade and make safety improvements to roads between 2015 and 2021.”
But with the 25th anniversary of the Spalding Guardian’s “Rebuild The A1073 Campaign” (which the A16 replaced) coming in November 2018, the words of late editor Clive Brown are relevant so soon after Monday’s A16 tragedy.
Mr Brown said: “Maybe your life, maybe the life of one of your children, we want action – urgent action – to reduce the toll of death.”