A11 plans gather speed

A FULLY dualled A11 moved a step closer to reality yesterday as a consultation exercise began which could herald the start of the upgrade in two years.

A FULLY dualled A11 moved a step closer to reality yesterday as a consultation exercise began which could herald the start of the upgrade in two years.

Residents got their first look at a 3D computer model of a dualled A11 between the notorious Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills and Thetford as the route for the long-awaited £135m scheme went on public display.

The exhibition of the Highways Agency proposals and draft orders means that work on the nine-mile stretch could begin at the end of 2010, if approved by transport minister Ruth Kelly.

However, it emerged yesterday that campaigners may have to wait until next autumn before the secretary of state gives the final go-ahead to bring the A11 upgrade forward from its current 2012/13 start date.


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The news came as a public exhibition began at Barton Mills Village Hall where it was revealed that an average journey on a fully dualled A11 between Fiveways and Thetford will take 11 minutes - a saving of 13 minutes. Estimated daily traffic flow on the road would also jump from 33,800 in 2006 to 52,900 vehicle movements by 2029.

Highways Agency officials yesterday said they expected to publish draft orders and an environmental statement on upgrading the final single carriageway stretch of the A11 in the autumn, which could see a public inquiry start in the summer of 2009.

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Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, who visited the exhibition, said the consultation was an “essential” part of the process and he felt “quite moved” watching a virtual model of a congestion-free four lane A11. He added that he would continue to pressurise Ms Kelly to ensure she committed the crucial funding in time for a 2010 start: “There is absolutely no reason why it should not start in 2010 and that is what we are moving towards.

“There is a change of tone where every possible stakeholder is up for this and that is very important. We need the secretary of state to give the final nod, which is likely to be in the autumn next year, but it is possible that she will make an early commitment to the funding of this scheme.”

Members of the regional planning panel - an offshoot of the East of England Regional Assembly - recommended on July 8 that the project should start at the end of 2010.

The work would see the A11 bypassing Elveden to the north of the village and would also result in improvements to the Fiveways roundabout, the creation of an underpass for the B1112 and an overpass for the B1106 and junction at the site of the Elveden crossroads.

Roger Hawkins, project manager for the Highways Agency, said: “Generally there is strong support for the scheme. This is the missing link dual carriageway between the M11 and Norwich. It will greatly reduce congestion, provide more capacity, improve journey times and make the A11 safer.”

The exhibition will be at Elveden Village Hall from 10am to 4pm today and the Dome Leisure Centre at Mildenhall on Wednesday from 10am to 8pm.

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