Call for urgent work on death road

By James MortlockCAMPAIGNERS and councillors have demanded to know why yet more lives have been claimed on a road which has for decades been the subject of endless calls for safety improvements.

By James Mortlock

CAMPAIGNERS and councillors have demanded to know why yet more lives have been claimed on a road which has for decades been the subject of endless calls for safety improvements.

Mary Crane, the Suffolk county councillor for the area, launched a blistering attack on her own authority over its lack of action on improving the A1101.

She has been campaigning for safety improvements on the section of A1101 at Burnt Fen where the accident happened since she became a councillor five years ago and stressed nothing had been done, despite the deaths of two Americans in separate crashes earlier this year.

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Mrs Crane said she was fed-up with the concerns of residents being ignored and added: "One gets a bit frustrated when one has to wait until something like this happens before it's a priority.

"The whole thing needs looking at. It's something I'm getting really frustrated about. I don't think it's being given the prominence and urgency it deserves.

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"The council must listen to people who live in the areas where the accidents have happened. I hope this tragedy will highlight the fact that local people haven't been crying wolf."

She added: "They know there are problems here and we need to get the appropriate preventative and remedial measures in place as quickly as possible.

"I'm not saying what happened on Friday night could have been prevented, but we have been campaigning for too long. We need proper road markings and chevrons to make sure there are no gaps in the white lines at the sides of the road and we also want a 50mph limit.

"I have asked the council to look at a 50mph limit, but they said no – they say it doesn't fit the criteria. We think the engineers need to come and see for themselves and talk to the people who live here."

Kay and Michael Sallis, who live only a few yards from the scene of Friday night's crash, are also desperate for safety measures to be introduced.

Mrs Sallis said: "This is just horrendous. We now feel that something must be done to bring some good out of this tragedy.

"I think we have all been waiting for something like this to happen. We have been doing our very best to stop it, but it has happened – some good must come from this awful thing. It makes me very, very upset to think nothing has been done."

Mrs Sallis said the stretch of road had been treacherous for the 40 years she had been living there and many lives had been claimed, including five Americans in a single accident some years ago. As well as the 50mph speed limit, Mrs Sallis felt crash barriers should be built at the side of the road.

Alan Jones, who also lives near the accident scene, said it had made him more determined than ever to win safety measures.

Mr Jones, who believes speed cameras would help, added: "We desperately need something up here to slow the traffic down.

"I'm terrified something like this might happen when my children are waiting for the school bus. Seeing those children made me realise that in a second a whole family can be wiped out. This has made us keener than ever to push for some action."

Captain Shane Balken, RAF Mildenhall public affairs officer, said the air base would back calls for a review of safety on the road.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first fatal accident on that road in the past few months and the members of this family are not the only members of the base community we have lost there," he added.

"I live in Littleport and drive the stretch every day and I'm always conscious there are really steep ditches and nasty bends. It's a treacherous road and we always put the emphasis on safety to our people.

"The base would echo the local calls for a safety review. Anything that's going to make the road safer we would fully support."

It is the third time this year that accidents on this stretch of the A1101 have claimed the lives of people associated with RAF Mildenhall.

American Andrew Waxler, 27, and Gerald Nicholls, 32, who was a serviceman on the base, both died following separate crashes on the A1101.

Peter Turner, assistant director of highways at Suffolk County Council, promised safety on he road would be thoroughly investigated.

"We will note the police report and examine the actual circumstances of this tragic accident. We are aware of previous crashes on the road and are currently spending more than ever – £2.5million this year – on road safety improvements.

"We are determined to make roads safer and are taking road safety and accident reduction very seriously."

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