Strong safety concerns have been raised about the 3,000 extra vehicles which are passing daily along the A5 through Hockliffe since the M1-A5 link road opened.
At a recent Hockliffe Parish Council meeting, representatives from Highways England attended and spoke to residents and the council about the traffic issue.
They explained that prior to the construction of the A5/M1 Link Road there was a public inquiry which identified that it was likely that there would be a daily increase of 3,000 vehicles through Hockliffe.
That has materialised with the 13,000 vehicles travelled through Hockliffe on a daily basis, now increasing to a total of 16,000. The Highways Agency told the meeting there would be a post opening evaluation carried out in May 2018 (a year after the link road opened) to look at the impact on surrounding locations.
It was revealed at the meeting that there is no plan to deliver a bypass for Hockliffe.
Residents also raised concerns about the potential effect of new homes at Houghton Regis on traffic through the village, the speed of HGVs, how the weight restriction on surrounding roads impacts the A5 through Hockliffe, and asked if the speed limit could be reduced from 40mph to 30mph.
Hockliffe resident John Gilbey said: “Officers from Highways England came to the parish town council meeting and listened to what we had to say.
“They are open to hear our suggestions on how to improve the traffic in the village, they are coming back and I have been asked to walk around with them and speak to them about the concerns and suggestions the villagers have.
“Since June last year there have been 285 incidents on the M1 which has led to extensive tail backs on the A5. During this time there have also been 9 separate overnight closures of the M1 which has led to a constant flow of traffic through the village, which have made property shake and kept residents awake.
“The amount of traffic on the A5 through Hockliffe is unbelievable and is getting really out of hand, it has got a lot worse since the A5-M1 link road opened in May.”
Peter Edwards, of Hockliffe, witnessed a dumper truck crash into the back of an Astra on the A5 when the car was in a stationary traffic jam last month.
He said: “We are used to sitting in traffic jams now, when travelling home from Milton Keynes on the A5, pretty much every day there are traffic jams, if you live in the village it can sometimes take about 40 minutes to get home on the A5 from the Heath and Reach roundabout, it is ridiculous, it has been like it since the A5-M1 Link Road opened in May.
“We stopped in the traffic jam and when I checked my mirror I saw a large truck coming down the road and it wasn’t stopping. We had just moved forward when we heard the truck crash into the back of the Astra behind us, the car spun and it ended up in a ditch on the other side of the road, luckily the driver of the car was able to walk away from the crash. I spoke to the driver of the truck and he said why are there cars parked on the A5, I said don’t be ridiculous, they are not parked it is a traffic jam.
“I have lived in Hockliffe for years and it has always been busy but it has got ridiculously busy since the A5-M1 Link road opened.”
“It is 60mph as you come from Heath and Reach into Hockliffe and there are lot of hills and blind spots, it is very dangerous.
“They could ease the problem by stopping HGVs going through Hockliffe on the A5, Central Bedfordshire Council have put restrictions to stop them going through the surrounding villages but not Hockliffe. The village is getting choked with traffic and it is very dangerous for people who live here , Central Bedfordshire Council should stop HGVs travelling through here as well.”
Central Bedfordshire Council enforced a 7.5 tonne weight limit in Houghton Regis, Dunstable, Toddington, Woburn and many local roads, but Hockliffe does not fall into the restriction.
A spokesperson for CBC said: “Hockliffe does not fall into the Central Bedfordshire Council’s weight limit ban, as that remains the A5 and so is still operated by Highways England and part of their strategic network through to Milton Keynes.
“Residents with concerns should therefore contact Highways England. Senior managers at Central Bedfordshire Council have been made aware of residents’ concerns about the impact of future growth impacting on the A5.”
Highways England will be sending out representatives to Hockliffe again to meet members of the Parish Council and discuss the issues again.
A Highways England spokesperson said: “Representatives from Highways England attended a meeting with the Parish Council last month where we discussed the A5 through Hockcliffe.
“We have offered to meet members of the Parish Council again where we will discuss in more depth their areas of concern, and whether any measures to address these can be put in place.”