Hillend junction study recommends £5m upgrade

Miles Briggs at Hillend junction.
Miles Briggs at Hillend junction.

A study has recommended a £5 million upgrade of the busy Hillend junction, which is the scene of frequent near misses.

The report on the three-way junction, where the A702 trunk road meets the A703 and Old Pentland Road, said there was poor visibility and confusion over which traffic had priority.

Some alterations were made to the junction in 2012, but the report said a problem still existed. There were seven accidents involving injuries in five years.

And a survey recorded over 5,500 “conflicts” in four days - anything from motorists having to brake for another vehicle to cars encroaching into the wrong lane when turning to a narrowly-avoided collision.

Seven different options were examined and the one recommended for further research is to close the existing A703 junction and create a new A703 junction, with traffic lights, further south on the A702. The Old Pentland Road junction would remain as it is, with the addition of a right-turn, cross-hatched “ghost island”.

Installing traffic lights at the existing junction was also looked at, but the study concluded it would result in “over-saturation” of the junction, long queues and an extra strain on the road network at this point.

The report said the proposed option would simplify the junction layout, improve visibility and control traffic movement.

The cost is estimated at between £3m and £5m. It will involve land acquisition and extensive earthworks.

And among disadvantages listed in the report are longer journey times for road-users on the local access section of the A703, potential delays and queuing, a possible increase in rear-end shunts and perhaps limited gaps for motorists joining the A702 from Old Pentland Road.

Lothian List Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said people frequently contacted him after a near miss at the junction.

He said: “When you’re standing there you see lots of near misses.

“Now these options have been outlined, it’s important that ministers and the council take forward a solution as soon as possible.

“If this is what they are looking towards we need that financial commitment to invest in making the junction safe for all road users.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “An investigation was carried out into the safety and operation of the A702/A703/Old Pentland Road junction, including a conflict study to identify ‘near misses’.

“A number of options to reduce vehicular conflict at this location have been identified, which Transport Scotland will be considering further.

“As the A703 and Old Pentland Road are the responsibility of Midlothian Council, further consultation with the council will be required before any decision on a preferred option is taken.

“Once a preferred option has been confirmed this will then be subject to prioritisation with other road safety schemes in the South East Unit.”

Midlothian Council did not want to comment at this stage.