A11 dualling to be delayed

DUALLING work to the A11 will be delayed while an inquiry is carried out after highways chiefs were unable to meet the demands of objectors who raised concerns about one of Suffolk's busiest roundabouts.

Laurence Cawley

DUALLING work to the A11 will be delayed while an inquiry is carried out after highways chiefs were unable to meet the demands of objectors who raised concerns about one of Suffolk's busiest roundabouts.

Work on the A11 between Barton Mills and Thetford was due to get underway in 2010 after Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon brought the scheme forward by 18 months.

Mr Hoon's decision delighted businesses in the area, which claim dualling the last 30-mile stretch of single-carriageway on the A11 will be a boost to the regional economy.


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But the Highways Agency has now confirmed it has received a number of challenges to Mr Hoon's proposed A11 scheme. A key concern for those living in the Barton Mills area is the Fiveways roundabout, which residents claim needs to be radically improved if the A11 is to be dualled. Those living in, or travelling to, Mildenhall have to cross the junction which is already frequently congested. They fear if the A11 is dualled without major work to the roundabout the situation will worsen. Others have raised concerns about crossing the A11 at the war memorial in Elveden.

As a result a public inquiry will be held which could delay the start of works, which are expected to cost between �106 million and �147million, by five months or more.

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Rona Burt, Tuddenham councillor and chairman of Forest Heath District Council, has campaigned for the A11 to be dualled for years but she said she was concerned that the scheme did not adequately address the need to improve the busy Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills.

She said she was “not surprised” about the decision to hold an inquiry claiming her concerns were reflected by many in the Barton Mills area.

“A lot of parish councils are objecting because they are not doing anything with the Fiveways roundabout or the Tuddenham junction. The view is why are they spending a lot of money doing the A11 when they are not doing anything with the roundabout.”

Colin Noble, county councillor for Row Heath and regular user of the Fiveways roundabout, said: “We all welcome the dualling of the A11 and we all want it to happen. But beyond that, there are a lot of local people who have to use that roundabout every single day and it is important their concerns are looked at and that everything that can be done to address those concerns is done.

“It will delay this (the dualling work), but we want to see everything that can be done, being done. Perhaps an inquiry is the only way to do that.”

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: “We are committed to improving this busy section of the A11.

“A public inquiry has been called because a number of objections to the scheme were received. However, we will continue to work to resolve the outstanding objections and it may not be necessary to hold the public inquiry if they can all be resolved.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for roads, said the council had offered to make a financial contribution towards the cost of crossing at Elveden and described news that agreement had not been reached between the Highways Agency and those with concerns as “disappointing”.

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