PLANS to improve safety for children crossing a road where a Basingstoke schoolgirl died have been given the go-ahead by Hampshire County Council.
The £360,000 scheme aims to make London Road safer for pupils at the nearby The Costello School, and to encourage lower traffic speeds.
In February 2011, 14-year-old Costello schoolgirl Louise Eames, from Popley, Basingstoke, died after she was involved in a fatal collision with a car while crossing London Road.
Although the accident was no one’s fault, it acted as a tragic reminder of the dangers for young people trying to negotiate the traffic when crossing the busy road.
The council has worked with the school, since Louise’s death, to come up with a plan of works to improve London Road, as previously reported in The Gazette, and these plans have finally been approved.
Nearby residents were also involved in helping to come up with a design, which includes building three new pedestrian crossing points with refuge islands.
Another crossing point will replace the existing priority build-out at the eastern end of the road, near the junction with the Ringway, making four in total along London Road.
Changes will also be made to the junction of London Road and Crossborough Hill to make it easier for the traffic affected by the new pedestrian refuge in London Road, to turn out of the junction and to help improve safety for pedestrians.
The plans were approved by Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport. Cllr Kendal, who is also deputy leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “This scheme has been designed to encourage motorists to drive with due regard for pedestrians along this road.
“I hope that when the scheme has been completed, pedestrians, particularly those attending The Costello School, will make good use of the refuge islands to help keep themselves safe when crossing the road.”
Julia Mortimore, headteacher at Costello, added: “We are delighted. At last the improvements are actually going to take place.
“It will certainly control the traffic more down London Road. They have got several designated places with islands in the middle where they can cross half way.”
Work is expected to start at Easter, during the school holidays, to keep disruption to a minimum. The project will be funded largely by developer contributions, and the balance paid for with a grant from central Government.
Before the scheme is carried out, some work will need to be done to divert utility services such as gas, electric and mains water.