URGENT calls have been made to improve a hazardous stretch of the A590.

Residents living close to the busy A road, which is plagued with incidents and accidents, want swift action to increase safety along the six miles between the Brettargh Holt and Meathop roundabouts.

Highways England,which held a drop-in session to gather local opinion, has put forward possible solutions, which include a roundabout at Gilpin Bridge, closing central reservations and revising road markings.

According to figures released by Highways England, between 2015 and March 2018 there were 15 ‘fatal’ or ‘serious’ casualties on the stretch of A590 in question, and a further 49 considered ‘slight’.

Chris Lansdowne, a driving instructor who lives in Levens, highlighted the right-hand turn from Levens Lane on to the A590 slip road (towards Grange-over-Sands) as a particularly dangerous spot.

“It’s sharp, it’s blind and people come round at speed. It really is an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

The Westmorland Gazette: The area at Gilpin Bridge where a roundabout could be built. Picture: JON GRANGERThe area at Gilpin Bridge where a roundabout could be built. Picture: JON GRANGER

He added his wife and children always turned around at Brettargh Holt roundabout when heading in the direction of Grange, rather than risk the right turn on to the slip road from Levens Lane.

Mr Lansdowne also pointed out the general difficulties with right-hand turns off the A590, with cars moving into the overtaking lane before “going into what is a relatively small central area, and then having to go across the fast [oncoming] traffic to complete the right-turn.”

He said that something “definitely” needed to be done and central reservations “need to be closed if they cannot find an alternative way of doing it.”

Also concerned about the A590 were Stuart and Jenny Stott, with the bed and breakfast they run - Beech Hill House, just outside the village of Witherslack - lying adjacent to the road.

Mr Stott said: “If you stand in our garden you won’t stand there for very long before you hear horns blaring.”

According to Mr Stott, problems are created because the A road moves from a dual to a single carriageway immediately after the turn-off which leads to Witherslack and their guest house.

He said people speeded up to get ahead of traffic before they reached the single lane, but there was confusion because of other, slower-moving, cars which were exiting or entering the Witherslack junction or crossing to the central reservation.

Mrs Stott said: “There has been one person killed there. I’m just waiting for more.”

Mr Stott added he would like to see “a small slip road for people out of Witherslack, turning left to go towards Kendal.”

Rachel Stokes, a manager at Witherslack Community Shop, said: “People just go too fast and I would like some sort of slowing down place for residents or people visiting Witherslack coming from Grange.”

Highways England has begun the process of addressing local concerns. Jonathan Reade, route manager with the organisation, said it had been in dialogue with councillors for a number of years.

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At a drop-in session for the public, the organisation identified a number of areas along the stretch from Meathop to Brettargh Holt where improvements could be made. These related to vehicle, pedestrian and cycle safety.

Mr Reade said the schemes it was looking to deliver were “small scale”, costing in the millions rather than the tens of millions.

Although he stressed nothing was set in stone at the moment, he said one improvement being considered was putting in a roundabout at Gilpin Bridge. This could be combined with central reservation closures up to Brettargh Holt, as well as an upgrade to the junction at Levens Lane.

He said: “We thought it sensible to try to come up with a plan for dealing with them all [the issues] in a coherent way,” adding this would put the team working on the project in a “stronger position” for getting funds for improvements from Highways England.

Chris Lansdowne compared the potential Gilpin Bridge roundabout to the one opened along the A590 at Greenodd in 2014, saying: “If they did the same as they did at Greenodd it would make sense.”

However, he added the Greenodd roundabout, built at the junction with the A5092 local road, had no road markings to direct traffic approaching from the Ulverston direction. As the road moved from a dual to single carriageway immediately after the roundabout, this created a problem because there were often two cars coming round side by side “competing for the same space.”

A spokesman for Highways England said: “We are still assessing concerns, ideas and other contributions we received at last week’s event but some common themes such as support for a roundabout at Gilpin Bridge, providing a safer environment for cyclists and the speed limits around junctions are emerging.

“We are continuing the dialogue, including speaking to local councillors, and this will help us develop and deliver individual or packages of improvements over the next few years.”