A11 2010 start date 'on the table'

HIGHWAYS officials are already drawing up plans to start work on the long-awaited dualling of one of the most treacherous roads in East Anglia, it has emerged.

Will Clarke

HIGHWAYS officials are already drawing up plans to start work on the long-awaited dualling of one of the most treacherous roads in East Anglia, it has emerged.

But last night campaigners said they feared the dire state of the UK economy could scupper the project yet again.

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, holds the £135million purse strings for the scheme to dual the last remaining single carriageway stretch of the A11 - and she has given fresh hints that a 2010 start date is a possibility.


You may also want to watch:


The long-awaited project was given a shot in the arm this week after a breakthrough meeting by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) transport planning panel made the improvements between Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, and Thetford a top priority.

And in a letter to Richard Spring, MP for west Suffolk, Mrs Kelly said: I can confirm that, providing there is no undue delay to the statutory processes….a scheme start date of late 2010 is still achievable. We are all agreed on the importance of keeping 2010 on the table.”

Most Read

However there are fears a recession could be the biggest threat to stopping the tarmac from being laid after almost 40 years of fighting.

Mr Spring, a long term proponent of the scheme, stressed the importance of the Minister's assurances but he also conceded the way ahead was far from clear.

“The economy isn't helpful but at the moment it (the dualling) is doable,” he said. “I have received assurances from the Secretary of State that they will be working with the region and the Highways Agency to move this process on.

“There are still a number of hoops to jump through, there are a number of pots of money and we will lobby the department to find that money.

“However, I am delighted by the letter which really indicates a new and fresh commitment to get the dualling started as soon as possible.”

The precise course for the new stretch of A11 has been protected from developers since 2001 when a preferred route was announced.

A Highways Agency spokeswoman said: “We have to wait until the Department for Transport (DfT) has considered the affordability position and responded. We are already committed to progressing the statutory process so that we could start work as soon as possible, if funds became available.”

A spokesman for the DfT said: “If A11 dualling is to take place, the money will come from the Regional Funding Allocation (RFA). The RFA currently covers the period 2006 to 2016 and stands at £7.9bn. The East of England allocation is £1.04bn. It is the Secretary of State who ultimately decides which projects get the go ahead based on advice from the regions.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter