A14 lorry overtaking ban delayed

TWO trial schemes to ban lorries from overtaking on the A14 in Suffolk have been put off because they are not considered a priority.

Graham Dines

TWO trial schemes to ban lorries from overtaking on the A14 in Suffolk have been put off because they are not considered a priority.

The decision by the Highways Agency was branded “extraordinary” by Suffolk's highways chief Guy McGregor, whose department has been inundated with complaints from motorists at the queues caused by HGVs crawling past each other.

Following a successful pilot scheme on the road in Northampton, Suffolk County Council had asked the agency to look at the possibility of adopting the measure on the trunk road which carries the majority of freight to and from Felixstowe.

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However, after an initial positive response, the trial project has been relegated “while other priorities are addressed”.

A spokesman for the agency - which is responsible for all spending and improvements on the trunk road network - added: “The project will be considered in due course for funding in 2010-11.”

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The approaches to the Orwell Bridge at Ipswich and sections of the A14 around Bury St Edmunds had been identified by the agency as locations for the trial bans. Mr McGregor, who is the transport portfolio holder on the county council's cabinet, said the problem was causing “a groundswell of frustration” among motorists.

He described the agency's decision as disappointing, adding: “I thought it had realised just how important the A14 is to the economy of the county. Everything must be done to make it safer.

“These two schemes on the Orwell Bridge and at Bury are much needed and we were encouraged by the favourable response we had to our request. Now it could be nearly two years before any trials are put in place.”

An 18-month trial monitoring the success of a temporary daytime ban on lorries overtaking each other on a two-mile section of the A14 in Northampton near to its junction with the M1 in Leicestershire ended in November last year with the Government making it permanent.

Junior transport minister Lord Adonis said at the time: “We are committed to tackling congestion and making journeys on our roads more reliable. Before the trial, these two stretches of the A14 were often blocked by overtaking lorries going slowly up the hills. This caused frustration among car drivers and other motorists caught up in queues.”

Highways Agency area performance manager Iain Semple said: “Heavy vehicles slow down on the uphill slopes and when they try to overtake each other, they can block both lanes and slow down other traffic.

“Drivers of vehicles caught up in the resulting queues become frustrated and that leads to an increased risk of accidents and further traffic delays.”

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