Cornwall A38: Urgent plea to improve safety of the Duchy's 'most dangerous' road

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There are calls to improve the A38 in the Cornwall. Credit: LDRS

There is an urgent plea to improve Cornwall's A38 after it emerged that drivers are two and a half times more likely to be seriously injured there than any other road in the Duchy.

Cornwall Council heard a stark warning from one of their own at a meeting on 19 September.

Looe councillor Armand Toms, announced this as he proposed a motion to dual the major road in south east Cornwall in a bid to make it safer.

National Highways has previously announced a package of measures for the A38 including speed cameras, improved road and junction layouts, upgraded bus lay-bys, reduced speed limits, improved signage, lighting and traffic signalling.

However, the Department for Transport announced earlier this year that the promised improvement work, which was due to take place between 2025 and 2030, has now been delayed as it “balances the books”.

The work is now planned between 2030 and 2035 which many councillors, residents and businesses in south east Cornwall believe is far too late.

Cllr Toms proposed a motion that Cornwall Council carries out a full design for improvements and safety on the A38 as it has done on the A30, twice.

This should include the St Austell Link Road - with the design being for dualling of three sections – Saltash to Trerulefoot, Trerulefoot to Dobwalls and Dobwalls to Bodmin.

On the basis of a full dualling scheme of 36km, the total estimated whole project costs – excluding land and client costs – would be in the region of £1.2 billion to £1.5 billion.

Cllr Armand Toms (left) gave an impassioned speech about improving the A38. Credit: BPM Media

Cllr Toms said that therefore, full design costs would be estimated around £60m.

He added: “We can do this – £16m for the first stage for the Carkeel to Trerulefoot section, though a mixture of borrowing and funds. That gives you parity to what’s been done for sections of the A30.”

“In the report you will see that they only deal with that one section. They don’t talk about the other two – Trerulefoot to Dobwalls and Dobwalls to Bodmin.

"It’s the bit from Dobwalls to Bodmin that’s probably the most expensive as that’s through the Glynn Valley, which if you look at the highways’ assessment is of poor quality and dangerous.

"You are two and a half times more likely to have a serious injury or die on the A38 – that is a fact and it’s in the reports.”

“It’s an economic barrier to the people of south east Cornwall – we have to travel that, we have no choice; we’re stuck in traffic jams all the time,” added the councillor.

“They’re (National Highways) going to spend £20m on upgrading the (Saltash) tunnel.

"I would say that’s a disgrace and I’ll tell you for why – £20m would redo the turning at Lean Quarry and Menheniot and reduce the number of serious accidents and deaths on that road.

"Twenty million pounds isn’t a lot of money in road terms – that is saving lives, and that’s what I’m asking for and that’s what I’ll be taking to the cabinet.”

Cllr Toms received a loud round of applause from councillors following his speech.

A picture from the scene of a crash on the A38. Credit: BPM Media

The financial implications of the motion mean it will now go before the council’s cabinet. Cllr Toms will be given five minutes to address the members on the issue.

Vicky Fraser, Cornwall Council’s service director for environment and connectivity, said: “We have significant budget pressures across the local highway network in Cornwall - there are two key risks associated with funding design for a scheme of this level.

"The national funding position has changed significantly since the funding for the previous and current major road schemes in Cornwall were secured.

"There is no indication that this picture will change in the future, not least given the national and local commitment (and requirement) to decarbonise and ensure resilience/maintenance of existing networks.

“While splitting the route into sections reduces the scale of the single ask, it equally introduces risk in terms of the individual business cases stacking up on their own merit and/or duplicating outcomes for subsequent business cases.”

She added there were significant financial implications for the council’s future budget and there are currently no allocated resources that could fund the proposal.

Credit: Lee Trewhela, Local Democracy Reporter