What’s the Most Improved Road in Britain? The A70, of Course!

The A70, known colloquially as the “Lang Whang”, connects Edinburgh and Ayr, passing through Slateford, Juniper Green, and Carnwath – among other areas – and has always been known as one of the five most dangerous roads in Scotland. Between 2007 and 2009, it was ranked as having one of the highest numbers of fatal or serious road accidents in relation to the amount of traffic that passed on it.

Construction plays a big part in road safety, but a little innovation also goes a long way!

Construction plays a big part in road safety, but a little innovation also goes a long way!

That it has a dangerous reputation is no coincidence; much of the road is over elevated, desolate moorland, and at some points it reaches a climb of 1000 feet above sea level. Especially during the winter, it can be very hazardous driving, because cold winters ensure cold winds that bring massive amounts of snow – even with low precipitation. Yet there is hope – major improvements have indeed been made.


Truly impressive statistics

Between 2008 and 2013 – a span of 5 years – the accidents on the A70 have dramatically decreased - amazingly so. For any road to decrease its accidents by a rate of 94% is incredible. Many improvements, both in infrastructure and in road management, were made, and this has obviously paid off. Some of the upgrading seemed common sense; other forms of development were possible only after thorough analysis. Here are just some examples:

Part of the A70, especially within the South Ayrshire district, has been widened. The road capacity increased, making the road much safer for all kinds of motorists.

In the East Ayrshire area, management proved that new and improved construction was not always necessary. Rather, they chose to implement more safety measures (such as stricter speed limits) and conducted tighter controls with speed cameras and warning signs. Drivers took heed and the results paid off.

Other areas were more problematic and needed urgent engineering solutions – as well as more funds. Public works focused on road re-alignments, the removal of bends and turns that simply were too dangerous, the resurfacing of large sections of the road, and junction improvements.

The hard work and clever ideas showed results pretty quickly, and, thanks to some major revisions, the road is now about 20 times safer than before.


An honour for the A70

The A70 received a true honour through no less than His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent, for the most improved road in Britain. Roads are reviewed annually, and the criteria are based on the European Road Safety Assessment. Because of its dramatic decrease in accidents, the A70 was honoured with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award.

“For the A70 to be named most improved road in Britain is a real honour, and is a reflection of the commitment displayed by our employees to make our roads safer,” said Councilor Douglas Raid, Leader of the East Ayrshire Council. Considering all the work and energy the employees spent these past five years, his sentiments are understandable. “I am absolutely delighted. On many ‘A’ roads the margin for human error is very small and junctions remain the largest source of serious injury. By re-aligning, re-surfacing and re-designing sections of the A70, the team has effectively addressed the main problem areas.”


We’re not done yet!

Despite the massive improvements the road has undergone, there is still a lot to be done. According to Councilor Bill McIntosh, Leader of the South Ayrshire Council, “South Ayrshire Council is spending around £10 million over five years to improve the quality of our roads and make them safer, which is the biggest investment in our road network for more than 10 years. The award recognises our determination to work with partners to improve all aspects of our roads.” Improvement is not a goal; it’s definitely a process – but the A70 is slowly but surely getting there.



Image attributed to digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted on 15 Feb 2016 in News

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