SAFETY measures could be introduced on a permanent basis to deal with a problem junction where people have been losing their lives for 30 years.
The partial closure of the gap in the central reservation at the junction of the A41 with Rake Lane and Station Road in Backford was agreed as a trial measure in October last year.
In a three year period from March 2004, road safety engineers said there were 13 recorded personal injury collisions of which 12 involved vehicles crossing or attempting to cross the gap in the central reservation.
There had since been a further two collisions involving vehicles crossing the gap, city and county councillors were told at the time.
The A41 road at the junction then had a 70mph limit.
Rake Lane and Station Road at the crossroads are both single carriageway roads which serve small communities with farmland on both sides, Chester's highways and transportation local joint committee was told.
Safety engineers said visibility towards Moston was sub standard as there is a crest which dips towards the Moston traffic lights.
Three of the reported injuries were serious and 10 were slight.
In recent years, a number of collisions had taken place involving vehicles crossing gaps in central reservations in Chester district, according to a report.
These included the A54 Kelsall bypass which had seen six deaths and the A41 at Pearl Lane in Chester where there was one fatal collision.
A survey showed that half the vehicles emerging from Station Road crossed the gap to turn right or travel straight across to Rake Lane.
Options considered by county and city councillors included a partial closure of the gap, requiring all traffic from Station Road to turn left, costing £25,000, a full closure costing £60,000 and traffic lights estimated to cost £250,000.
Engineers believed other possibilities including safety cameras, a roundabout and levelling the road would not be as effective.
A public meeting attended by parish councillors and 50 residents led to a mixed reception with a number of occupiers objecting to the partial closure and others welcoming the idea.
Objectors said they would be inconvenienced and would have to use an alternative route.
Most people believed the speed limit should be reduced to 40mph or 50 mph.
Area highways manager Colin Stredder recommended a partial closure of the gap due to the number and severity of the collisions at the junction and support for a 50mph speed limit.
Mollington city councillor Brian Crowe (Con) told the committee the three parish councils involved and Mollington Village Hall would prefer to see a 50mph speed limit introduced and evaluated.
If there were still problems, a partial closure could be considered.
City Cllr Jill Houlbrook (Con, Upton Grange) described that stretch of the road as “very dangerous”.
She said she had some sympathy with the parish councils but commented: “We do need to try to take some action.”
“I would prefer we could solve the problem by lowering the speed limit,” argued Cllr Houlbrook.
County Cllr David Rowlands (Con, Mickle Trafford) referred to a suggestion that the traffic lights at Moston could be changed to create gaps in the traffic.
He believed the speed limit should be implemented first and suggested that any delay with the scheme “may place serious injuries on our conscience”.
County Cllr Sue Proctor (Lib Dem, Boughton Heath & Vicars Cross) pointed out a “large majority” of residents were opposed to any closure of the gap but said: “We would not be fulfilling our duty if we did not take action.”
City Cllr David Hughes (Lab, Lache Park), a former senior police officer, described the junction as one of the most dangerous in the district.
“People have been losing their lives there for 30 years,” he commented. “Something has to be done.”
County Cllr Peter Byrne (Lab, City) described the road as “very very fast”.
Councillors agreed on a 6-4 vote that public consultation should take place on a partial closure of the gap on a trial basis to enable the effect to be assessed.
They also supported a proposed 50 mph limit.
City highway chiefs are due to hear on Thursday (November 20) there has been one injury accident since the restriction was introduced in January, involving a vehicle turning into Station Lane.
The introduction of a 50mph speed limit at the end of June has also seen a “significant reduction” in the speed of traffic on the A41.
Occupiers have sent in 13 objections, mainly concerning the inconvenience they suffer as a result of having to use an alternative route rather than Station Lane.
They also believe undertaking a U turn at the junction of the A41 and Church Lane to travel towards Chester is dangerous and point out that visibility when leaving Station Lane remains “very poor”.
Three residents support the move.
Mr Stredder believes the trial has been a success in reducing the number of collisions and is recommending the partial closure of the gap should be made permanent as soon as possible although he appreciates some residents will be inconvenienced.
The move is due to be considered at a Town Hall meeting at 6.30pm on Thursday.