A CATALOGUE of hair-raising smashes and near misses has prompted bosses at Shell Stanlow to permanently close Oil Sites Road to through traffic from the end of this month.
On Sunday, March 30, the barriers will go up at either end of the private road, running alongside the M53 motorway, which the oil giant has allowed the public to use for more than 80 years.
Access will only be granted to people working or having business at the firms running along its length.
Stanlow general manager Yuri Sebregts has sent a personal letter of explanation to residents of Ince, Elton and Thornton-le-Moors who use the road most.
He apologises for any inconvenience the closure will cause but stresses public safety must be his main concern.
Shell says it has been forced into action as a result of a number of serious incidents on the road, including:
A car driving through a red light at the distribution terminal entrance, narrowly avoiding a loaded petrol tanker
A car swerving into the path of a fire appliance responding on blue lights
Shell CCTV cameras recording three near-fatalities due to “extreme” speeding on the road which has a 30mph limit.
Cheshire County Council traffic surveys reveal that during an average weekend more than 2,000 vehicles use the road, with 66% of them breaking the speed limit, some doing up to 90mph.
Shell says it has looked at various ways to control drivers on the road, such as speed bumps, but ruled them all out mainly due to access problems.
Police will not operate speed cameras on private roads.
The road will be closed at the Poole Lane end between Gate 4 (Stanlow) and Gate 5 (Shell Lubricants Centre).
Those travelling to Stanlow are advised to use an alternative route for access to Gates 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the admin building, as there will be no through route from the Ince end of Oil Sites Road.
All car parks will be open as normal for staff, contractors and visitors and access will still be available for cyclists and pedestrians.
People going to Shell Lubricants Centre, Shell Technology Centre Thornton and Gate 6 should use the access from Poole Lane off the A5117.
The closure will be signposted on the A5117/Poole Lane junction, at the Boat Museum roundabout and along Oil Sites Road.
Shell is seeking planning permission to build two gatehouses at either end of the road, but it says if this is refused the road will be closed anyway.