A19 death junctions could be closed after probe

NOTORIOUS accident blackspot crossings along a stretch of the A19 near Hartlepool could be closed off after a major safety review following the death of a driver.

A recently commissioned study by the Highways Agency to look at the A19 junctions at Elwick will now also review the whole stretch between the A689 at Wynyard and the A179 at Sheraton.

The scene of the A19 crash where the driver was killed last month

The scene of the A19 crash where the driver was killed last month

That includes all central reservation crossings close to the villages of Elwick and Dalton Piercy and officials say the study will consider whether some of those could be closed to boost safety.

It comes after the death of Keri Holdsworth, a 36-year-old physiotherapist from the Edinburgh area, who died on the A19 northbound at the junction with Dalton Piercy in June this year.

Transport chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council have also raised their concerns about the crossing points, with council officers working on their own study.

The Highways Agency is expected to report back in March next year but one option could be to close some of the controversial crossings.

Any changes are subject to funding.

A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “Following the fatal accident on the A19 on June 13, a recently commissioned study to look at the A19 at Elwick has been extended to look at the A19 between the A689 Wynyard and A179 Sheraton junctions, which includes the Elwick and Dalton Piercy junctions.

“The study is due to be completed by March 2015.

“The study will consider improving the Elwick junction and whether this would allow some of the central reservation gaps along this section of the A19 to be closed. “The conclusions of the study will be considered and if feasible improvements are identified then any subsequent schemes would be subject to available funds.”

It came to light at a recent meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s neighbourhood services committee.

Labour councillor Peter Jackson, chairman of the committee, told members at the end of the meeting that due to the recent accident he has asked officers to bring a report looking at improving safety along that stretch.

Coun Jackson said: “I asked officers for a report so we can clarify what is happening and what we can do to move it forward and make it safer.

“The officers have said that the Highways Agency have also been in touch because they are also concerned about the junction and the safety record.”

The council’s report is expected back to the committee within the next two to three months.

Speaking at the time of Ms Holdsworth’s death, her sister said the family had been left devastated.

Fiona Chadwick described Ms Holdsworth as a “beloved sister who will be greatly missed” and said that family and friends have been left “devastated by what has happened.”

Ms Holdsworth worked with Edinburgh’s Watsonians FC rugby club and the women’s Under 20s squad for the Scottish Rugby Union and was also a former Scottish international with the national women’s rugby team and a player with the Watsonians.

She gained 15 caps for Scotland, making her debut against Ireland in 2008 and playing in the Women’s World Cup in England in 2010.

Ms Holdsworth was a physiotherapist volunteer at the 2012 Olympics in London and had hoped to work as a volunteer at the forthcoming Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

She suffered severe injuries and was flown by the Great North Air Ambulance to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, but later passed away.

The collision happened at around 4.30pm on Friday, June 13, on the A19 northbound at the junction with Dalton Piercy, involving a black Renault Clio and a black BMW M5.

Police are still appealing for witnesses.

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Police would again like to appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the collision or anyone who was present at the scene who has not already spoken to officers.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Mark Pearson from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit on the non-emergency 101 number, quoting reference number 100435.”