South West Wales

Carmarthenshire's A48 'danger junctions' closure backed

Councillors have backed plans to stop traffic crossing oncoming lanes on a busy stretch of a dual carriageway.

The safety measures are planned for a 70 mph four-mile section of the A48 between Pont Abraham and Cross Hands in Carmarthenshire.

The county's executive board approved making the necessary traffic orders but called on the assembly government to hold a public inquiry first.

Objectors said they were "very disappointed" with the decision.

At Monday's meeting councillors heard the road had a "higher than average accident rate" including three fatal accidents in five years.

The traffic order will allow junctions crossing the central reservation to be blocked off.

Supporters, including the three emergency services, said it would improve safety on the road but objectors said speed, and not the junctions, was the issue.

Community councillor Llinos Evans said closing the junctions would force people living in communities along the route to take detours to Cross Hands at the western end of the road, or Pont Abraham on the east to change direction to reach their homes.

She said it would also see an increase in tractors on the A48 as farmers would no longer be able to cross the carriageway to their land.

"I'm very very disappointed," she said.

"They are increasing the dangers of causing an accident by adding slow moving agricultural vehicles onto a road where speeds are in excess of 70mph."

Fatalities on the A48 included two deaths at the crossing at Cwmgwili in separate accidents in 2009.

At an inquest into the death of businessman Roger Bowen in September, Carmarthenshire coroner John Owen said unless action was taken to improve safety at that spot he would force the issue.

Members of Mr Bowen's family have backed the closure.

Council leader Meryl Gravel said: "We have given this a great deal of time and effort - we've met with the protesters on several occasions."

Deputy leader Kevin Madge said while he backed the decision to allow the necessary traffic orders to proceed the Welsh Assembly Government should hold a public inquiry before work begins.

By closing the junctions the assembly government were effectively creating "a motorway on the cheap", he said.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it noted the decision made by Carmarthenshire County Council.

A spokesman said: "While we will now be jointly considering the next steps in relation to the order, any decision whether or not to hold a public inquiry rests solely with Carmarthenshire County Council as the order making authority."

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