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A40 dual carriageway safety claim challenged
Official figures indicate that the dual carriageway section of the A40 between Carmarthen and St Clears is more dangerous than the single lane section from St Clears to Haverfordwest.
Figures, obtained by Friends of the Earth Cymru from the Welsh Assembly's Statistical Directorate, show that from 1991 to 2001 the accident rate per mile was slightly higher on the dual carriageway section while the fatality rate was almost double . It is thought that the higher speeds travelled, and the difficulty of accessing the dual carriageway from side roads, are responsible for this.
Friends of the Earth Cymru was responding to comments by Cllr Brian Hall in last week's Milford Mercury that a new dual carriageway was necessary for safety reasons. The organisation is arguing in favour of the less costly option of upgrading the existing A40 by a series of measures that would improve safety and accessibility.
These would include a Robeston Wathen by-pass, a roundabout at Canaston Bridge , right and left turn filters, improved facilities for farm vehicles and climbing lanes to facilitate the overtaking of slow vehicles, as opposed to building a new dual carriageway all the way between St Clears and Haverfordwest.
The cost of upgrading the single lane part of the A40 to Haverfordwest has been put at £35 million by the Welsh Assembly compared to £155 million for building a dual carriageway.
Friends of the Earth Cymru spokesperson, Gordon James, said:
" We believe that significant safety improvements could be made on the existing single lane A40 at far less cost than the building of a dual carriageway.
"A new dual carriageway running alongside the existing A40 would treble the number of lanes going in and out of Pembrokeshire. Traffic levels do not justify this huge increase in road space."
Friends of the Earth Cymru also points to research  that warns that road building into peripheral areas can be a double-edged sword having economic disadvantages as well as benefits. They state that a larger faster road could, for instance, make it easier to drive out of the area to shop away from the locality, to service the area from outside thus threatening local distribution depots, to drive in and out in one day rather than stop overnight and to bypass local facilities as people drive through to Ireland .
Gordon James continued:
"While the economic benefits of a dual carriageway are debatable, there would be significant environmental disadvantages as there would be an increase in the emission of pollutants that are causing climate change and harming health.
"We believe that the £120 million saved by upgrading rather than dualling this section of the A40 should be spent on improving road safety, rail services and other forms of public transport in south west Wales."
1. Figures obtained from the Welsh Assembly Statistical Directorate on December 18th 2003 indicate that from 1991 to 2001 the fatality rate on the dual carriageway between St Clears and Carmarthen was 1.66 per mile compared to 0.88 per mile for the single lane section between St Clears and Haverfordwest. The comparable accident rate was 18.5 per mile for the dualled section and 17.1 per mile for the single lane section.
2. The Government's Standing Committee on Trunk Road Assessment