Safety improvements around school could be coming four years after campaign for change

Hopes are rising that measures to improve road safety on a trunk road close to a Barnsley primary school will finally win approval four years after a detailed community study highlighted risks to the public.

Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 2:18 pm
Updated Monday, 19th August 2019, 1:09 pm
Open road: The A628 at Millhouse Green, Barnsley

The A628 runs through Millhouse Green, near Penistone, where it has a 40 mph speed limit and joins Lee Lane, where Millhouse Green primary school is sited, which is also governed by the same speed limit – one of only two schools in Barnsley with a speed limit higher than 30 mph directly outside.

Millhouse Community Association, supported by councillors in place at that time, commissioned a study in 2015 which highlighted the scale of traffic flow and showed most traffic adhered to the speed limit, but travelled at the top end of the range which residents argued was too fast when children and families were repeatedly crossing the road to reach the school and get home again.

The option of reducing the speed limit was rejected as too difficult and the situation entered an impasse, but a package of measures to improve safety along a stretch of the A629 from the Flouch roundabout to the Hoylandswaine roundabout are to be announced soon by Highways England, using a £1.4m grant.

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Coun Dave Griffin, who represents the area, said he was hopeful that would include measures to make conditions safer for pedestrians around the road in Millhouse Green, where the carriageway is straight and uncluttered – creating a potential illusion among motorists that higher speeds remain safe.

Coun Griffin said the problem with lowering the speed limit resulted from road conditions, because the 60 mph limit beyond the village would need to be ‘stepped’ down to 30 mph and the road layout was not conducive to that.

However, he believes other changes could be introduced as part of the package and is hopeful engineering solutions may be found, possibly narrowing the carriageway at some locations to physically control traffic speeds and the introduction of road islands to provide a sanctuary for those crossing the road, between carriageways.

“My main concern is about the school,” he said.

“It is unusual for a school to be sited on a 40 mph road in Barnsley. It is extremely unusual, if not unique, for a school to be sited on a junction of two 40 mph roads.

“I am expecting some of the recommendations from 2015 to come as a result of the A628 project.

“I am very hopeful we will get traffic regulations, yellow lines, which were requested by many residents in 2015.

“How far it will go, we are still waiting to see,” he said.

Yellow lines could be used to control parking in the area around the school, with the project already on a waiting list for attention.

But Barnsley Council no longer has the money available to fund most such schemes, so the cash has to be made available by localised organisations called ward alliances, using a budget provided to improve communities.

Because of potential legal implications, Barnsley Council quotes relatively high prices for the work and in Penistone the ward alliance has been reluctant to fund such work in the recent past.

Money for the work has come from a national fund, made available to tackle some of the country’s most dangerous roads. It has to be spent on the A628 over a seven kilometre stretch, specifically on measures to improve safety.