A14 should be a six-lane motorway

By Jonathan BarnesHAULIERS are calling on the Government to put an end to congestion and delays on the A14 – even if it means widening sections of the road to six lanes.

By Jonathan Barnes

HAULIERS are calling on the Government to put an end to congestion and delays on the A14 – even if it means widening sections of the road to six lanes.

Business leaders supported the Freight Transport Association's (FTA) call for urgent improvements to the road, which links East Anglia to the Midlands and serves the Port of Felixstowe.

The FTA has criticised the "poor" quality of the road and said a "reasonable expansion" would cut tailbacks and save businesses millions of pounds a year.

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Last night, the Government said it was committed to spending millions of pounds on the road and pledged to see more freight carried by rail to ease the burden on the A14.

FTA spokesman Geoff Dossetter said hauliers had highlighted the road as a major problem.

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"Everybody who does business into the Port of Felixstowe is unhappy about the quality of that road," he added.

"It is the biggest container port in the UK and the A14 is not becoming of that. For a road that links the region to the Midlands, it is such a poor road.

"It seems to be permanently congested and is not up to the job. We would like to see improved and widened junctions and general upgrading to cut congestion and smooth the traffic flow."

Mr Dossetter said turning the A14 into a six-lane motorway "might be a bit rash", but felt it was a possibility that should be looked into.

"There's no doubt it would make it into a high-quality road. So much time and money is wasted through congestion and we would like to see a reasonable expansion of our road network to deal with it. It would not require an amazing land take," he added.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said problems on the A14 had created costly delays for business.

He felt experts needed to be commissioned to look at the A14 and make it a safer and more free-flowing road.

"One of the areas of concern is the Orwell Bridge section of the A14 where there doesn't seem to be any rapid response to blockages," he added.

"There have been several half-day to three-quarter-day blockages, which mean deliveries come late and people don't arrive for meetings.

"I would also like to see heavy goods vehicles restricted to the slow lane at peak times, which would help with congestion.

David Ruffley, the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: "Given the A14 is one of the region's major trunk roads, it does not seem to have the money spent on it that it should.

"There are pressure points where it gets horribly blocked up and traffic waiting to get into towns like Bury St Edmunds is backed up on the A14. I welcome the FTA's intervention and I would like to hear more about the scope for six lanes."

But John Matthissen, of the Suffolk Green Party, said any plans to widen the A14 had been discredited more than a decade ago.

"If you provide more road space, it encourages more traffic and, given the finite amount of investment available for infrastructure, this should be at the bottom of any list of things to be done," he added.

"We have to restrain the amount of road transport. There is a railway line between Ipswich and Cambridge which could be enormously better used and there is a long way to go in increasing the rail share of freight to and from the ports at Felixstowe and Harwich."

John Gummer, the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said transforming the A14 into a motorway was "absolutely not" a priority. He added it should be a much higher priority to improve the railway network to carry more freight by rail.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: "The RTA is right to point out the need for improvements to the A14, which is a very important road, and we are spending millions of pounds to relieve congestion where we can.

"Improvements are taken very seriously and work will be carried out to improve junctions over the next few years. We are also looking to move as much freight by rail as possible."


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