Heated meeting on A14 scheme

By John HowardALMOST 100 people packed a public meeting last night to discuss a proposal to remove the notorious A14 Haughley Bends at a cost of up to £20 million.

By John Howard

ALMOST 100 people packed a public meeting last night to discuss a proposal to remove the notorious A14 Haughley Bends at a cost of up to £20 million.

The public meeting, called by Haughley parish councillors, came after the Highways Agency unveiled its preferred two potential options to realign the stretch of road at a cost of between £18m and £20m.

It wants to remove the notorious bends, near Stowmarket, and replace existing junctions and accesses with a two-level junction, and has two preferred routes to achieve this.

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They are:

n the “blue route”, which does not follow the existing line of the A14 and would involve an interchange being built on open land near the Harleston picnic site

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n the “red route”, which follows the line of the existing A14 and would see the interchange midway between the Quarries Cross junction and Fishponds Way.

But the parish council has been concerned its preferred route, where the interchange would be built past the Tot Hill junction and near the turning to Stowmarket, has been dropped.

It has also voiced fears the village would be left suffering from light pollution if the interchange and flyover was built near their community.

Mike Pirrie, chairman of Haughley Parish Council, gave a presentation to villagers from Haughley and nearby communities last night about the different routes before throwing the meeting open to discussion.

He said: “People are concerned and the Highways Agency has been good and said they are prepared to look at the scheme again, they are genuinely prepared to, given what people are saying.

“We live here because it's in the country and we want to keep things that way. This is only going to be built once and we have got to make sure it is right.''

Jeffrey Bowden, parish councillor, said the Highways Agency had a moral obligation to protect the quality of village life.

But during the heated meeting Mr Pirrie was interrupted by residents from Tot Hill on the A14, who are opposed to having an interchange built near them, fearing their quality of life would suffer.

The meeting heard some people express a hope a compromise scheme, mixing a hybrid of the routes proposed, could be built.

Haughley resident, Andy Stulpa, said: “The best solution is to quietly overcome any minor queries and get it built as soon as possible. The road is dangerous as it is and the sooner it is improved, the better.”

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: “It's very important people let us know what they think. People still have time to let the agency know what they think about the proposals, or alternative plans.”

The Highways Agency will continue seeking the public's views until May 12 and has pledged to look at any other routes suggested before deciding on the final scheme.

A public inquiry on the scheme could be held during 2005, with work starting on the route which is finally selected during 2006/7 and the new road opening in 2008.


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