December 8 2013 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Thursday, September 5, 2013
It may not look much, but this stretch of dusty tarmac signals the beginning of the end of traffic headaches for millions of drivers every year.
The decades-long wait for a dualled A11 from Barton Mills to Thetford moves a step closer tomorrow as drivers get on to this fresh road for the first time.
From 1am, developers on the £102m project will allow vehicles on to the newly laid southbound carriageway of the arterial road.
They will have to wait to experience the fully dualled road, as developers are using the new stretch to divert cars while they ready the northbound carriageway.
The Highways Agency say the fresh tarmac is not finished yet so will require further work, but the move marks an important moment in the project’s development.
Geoff Chatfield, Highways Agency project manager, said: “In order to start work to remove and replace the existing section of carriageway, we’re taking the opportunity to divert traffic onto a completed section on the new part of the carriageway on a temporary basis.
“Two-way traffic will temporarily be using the new southbound carriageway, from the underpass near the war memorial up to where the new Elveden bypass is being built, while construction of the new northbound carriageway is carried out.
“From around 1am on Friday, traffic will be using one and a half miles of new carriageway for the first time,” he said.
Work on the long-awaited project is now slightly ahead of schedule, according to the developers, with this year’s fine weather helping to accelerate progress.
An inclement winter could set back the work, but it is felt that the projected completion date of December 2014 should be met.
The speedy work has also led to a reduction in the scheme’s expected cost.
In 2009, the Government had expected to spend up to £150m on dualling the 9.1 mile stretch of road.
That figure was slashed to £130m when plans were entered, £120m at the start of work and now sits at £102m.
Once completed, the road is expected to deliver 20 times what it cost in financial benefits.
Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, gave the work his approval when he visited in August.