D-day for A11 dualling decision

THE start date for one of the region's most sought after road schemes could be brought forward by up to five years today, if transport chiefs vote it through today.

Laurence Cawley

THE start date for one of the region's most sought after road schemes could be brought forward by up to five years today, if transport chiefs vote it through today.

For years campaigners in west Suffolk and neighbouring Norfolk have lobbied for the A11 between the Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills and Thetford to be made a dual carriageway.

As it currently stands works on the A11 are pencilled in for between 2011 and 2015 but with no funding allocated for the scheme.


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Members of the East of England Regional Assembly's planning panel are today expected to vote for the works to be brought forward to 2010/2011, which would mean the dualling scheme could get underway in as little as 18 months' time.

A report prepared for the planning panel said: “Support is being sought to recommend to the Secretary of State that a firm commitment to start in 2010/11 should be made now, in advance of the wider Regional Funding Allocation (the money received from Government to pay for regional projects) review.

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“As a decision to accelerate the delivery of the A11 scheme would not compromise other regional priorities, the priority attached to the A11 and the very strong business case means it would survive any 'thinning' of the programme, if that becomes necessary.”

The scheme's campaigners last night urged panel members to support duelling the last remaining single carriageway section of the A11.

West Suffolk MP Richard Spring said: “There has never been such support for this long overdue project. We are all committed to driving this process forward and it is essential this is approved.

“If the panel does approve it then the way will be opened for the possibility that work can begin on the duelling in 2010. If this comes through then the chances of getting funding becomes considerably greater. This is an important step and I hope the councillors making this decision will support us.”

Rona Burt, chairman of Forest Heath District Council, said traffic congestion on the Fiveways to Thetford stretch was often “horrendous”.

“Something has to be done and it must be done sooner rather than later.”

Mrs Burt said a number of people had been killed or seriously injured on the single carriageway stretch. “You can't put a value on human life, that's the most important bit,” said Mrs Burt.

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