Anger at crossroads work delay

A FURIOUS Suffolk MP "absolutely outraged" by possible plans to shelve a vital road safety scheme has demanded a meeting with highways bosses and promised to raise the issue in Parliament.

A FURIOUS Suffolk MP "absolutely outraged" by possible plans to shelve a vital road safety scheme has demanded a meeting with highways bosses and promised to raise the issue in Parliament.

Officials said on Monday that a shortfall of Government cash could mean improvement work at the Rookery Crossroads, on the A14 near Bury St Edmunds, could be postponed after a decision was taken to divert money into the country's rail network.

The news has infuriated local MP David Ruffley, who has demanded answers from Archie Robertson, chief executive of the Highways Agency.

He said statistics showed the number of people killed or badly injured on that stretch of A14 was 10% above the national average, with at least 18 road users involved in serious and fatal accidents in the last six years.


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"I wish to emphasise the extreme anger and dismay that this decision has caused," he wrote to Mr Robertson. "I require a personal meeting with you to discuss this shocking change of policy which will be to the detriment of the interests – and the lives – of road users in my part of Suffolk."

Improvement work at the crossroads was due to begin during this financial year, much to the delight of campaigners who have fought for work for more than quarter of a century.

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But the Highways Agency has now said it may be forced to revise its business plan, freezing schemes included within its priority list.

The future of the A14 plan now depends on the outcome of a Treasury spending review, the results of which are expected in July.

"I am absolutely furious at this decision to put this vital safety scheme on hold, and maybe dumping it altogether," added Mr Ruffley.

"Only a small number of projects have been put on a Government hit list for cancellation and I want to know why. I suspect this is more discrimination against shire counties like Suffolk.

"It is totally unacceptable for the Government to cut A road budgets - the A14 is on of the most important of these in the country, and the Rookery Crossroads is a notorious accident blackspot.

"I am seeking a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, and I will be raising this with the roads minister when Parliament resumes.

"My message will be simple – without safety work at the Rookery Crossroads, people will die."

Potential improvements being considered by the Highways Agency have included building a bridge serving the A14 over the minor U8805 and U6321.

Other possibilities are a road-straightening scheme at Two Mile Spinney, with a central reservation gap and the junction with the U8003 closed. In 1995, it was estimated the scheme would cost £5.5million.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: "We can confirm we have received a letter from David Ruffley. We will look at his concerns carefully and respond in due course."

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