A14 improvements 'will save lives'

TRANSPORT bosses claim a £32million project to improve a notorious stretch of the A14 will save lives.They said fatal accidents on the Haughley Bends, near Stowmarket, were still happening on a “fairly regular basis”, despite 50mph speed limits.

By John Howard

TRANSPORT bosses claim a £32million project to improve a notorious stretch of the A14 will save lives.

They said fatal accidents on the Haughley Bends, near Stowmarket, were still happening on a “fairly regular basis”, despite 50mph speed limits.

Highways Agency chiefs insisted the stretch was the worst anywhere along the entire length of the road, from the M1 to Felixstowe.


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Plans for the new project, which could begin next year and take 18 months to complete, were showcased at Haughley yesterday. They will create a new route to eliminate the bends from the A14.

The planned new section, from Haughley New Street to Stowmarket, has been designed to reduce the number of accidents along the route.

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The work would see a new junction introduced, offering safer access to the A14 from the villages of Haughley, Haughley New Street and Harleston.

The new road would be built alongside the current route, which project bosses say will minimise any disruption to motorists.

Roger Hawkins, Highways Agency project manager, said: “This will certainly save lives. Fatal accidents are still occurring on a fairly regular basis and accidents are now back to the sort of rate they were prior to the 50mph limit being introduced.

“If you take the A14 as a whole, from the M1 to Felixstowe on the east coast, this is the worst stretch. We will take out the bends - this is a long term solution and it will improve safety and reduce accidents.”

But motorists and local residents at the public exhibition in Haughley yesterday had mixed views on the multi-million pound changes.

Ceri Jones, a Haughley resident, said: “Any improvements that can be made have to be a good thing, the road has caused a few accidents as it is now.”

Jeffrey Bowden, a Haughley parish councillor, said: “As far as all the road users are concerned, this has got to be a good thing.

“As far as Haughley is concerned this takes the road further away, and will reduce noise. We do have a couple of concerns though, including about the lighting planned for Quarries Cross and Tot Hill.”

But local government employee John Davies, from Finningham, uses the road virtually every day and said he did not think the work was necessary.

He said he believed it was a safe stretch of road if people travelled at the right speeds and he did not feel it worth making the changes.

Currently the accident rate along this section of the A14 is higher than the national average for a dual carriageway. In the three years before the 50mph speed limit was introduced, May 1997 to April 2000, there were three fatalities, five serious and 29 slight injuries.

In the five years after the speed limit's introduction, from July 2000 to June 2005, there were four fatal, three serious and 33 slight injuries.

A second exhibition of the plans will now take place tomorrow at the United Reformed Church, in Ipswich Street, Stowmarket, between 10am and 4pm.

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