Inquiry starts on road improvements

A PUBLIC inquiry into a major improvement scheme on a notorious stretch of the A14, where several people have been killed or seriously injured, has begun.

A PUBLIC inquiry into a major improvement scheme on a notorious stretch of the A14, where several people have been killed or seriously injured, has begun.

In the past five years there has been 69 accidents around the Rookery Crossroads section of the dual carriageway, at Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds.

The Highways Agency has unveiled a £5.5m improvement scheme in a bid to cut the number of accidents on the road, which has seen a total of 18 people killed or seriously injured since 1998.

A public inquiry is being held after local resident Robin Luff called for a new access road, to serve residents living at nearby Chapmans Close, to be included in the plans.

During yesterday's hearing Mr Luff told Government inspector Jim Coyne how the Highways Agency's plans would knock 40% off the value his home, by forcing him and his neighbours to use the Rougham Industrial Estate as a permanent access route.

Mr Luff and other residents say a new, more suitable and safer access road leading up to the properties should be built.

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He said: “I don't want to hold these plans up because I think they are important, but I am against the idea of us being forced to use the industrial estate every time we want to get to our homes.

“We should get a new link road to the front of our homes. We have been offered compensation, but it is pathetically low. I am behind this scheme as a whole, but I want the a new access route to be included.”

Consultations for improving the Rookery Crossroads go back to 1994. Recent research shows 31,500 vehicles use the A14 everyday and that the number of people killed or seriously injured on the section between Bury St Edmunds and Beyton is 10% higher than the national average.

The agency wants a bridge serving the A14 built over the minor U8005 and U6321 roads to replace the now closed crossroads.

Other parts of the scheme would see the road straightened at Two Mile Spinney, a central reservation gap and the junction with the U8003 blocked off.

Highways Agency project manager Mark Pinner said it is hoped work on the project could begin in the summer and would take a further 18 months to complete.

He said the plans for a new access road to serve those living at Chapmans Close would be costly and damaging to the environment.

“We think the residents already have an acceptable means of access through the industrial estate. Using the existing road will reduce the environmental impact and save around £400,000. Also if we included the access road into the scheme now it would set us back considerably.”

The inquiry continues today.(Weds)

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