Major road safety scheme will go-ahead

By Dave GooderhamCAMPAIGNERS who were left stunned by a funding threat to safety work at a notorious crossroads have welcomed assurances that the scheme will go ahead.

By Dave Gooderham

CAMPAIGNERS who were left stunned by a funding threat to safety work at a notorious crossroads have welcomed assurances that the scheme will go ahead.

However, although highways bosses pledged the long-awaited work at the Rookery Crossroads on the A14 at Rougham would get under way later this year, community leaders vowed to keep the pressure on.

Residents, councillors and MPs have fought vigorously for improvements to the stretch of the A14 since five people died on the dual carriageway in the space of just a few months in 1991.

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But the safety measures appeared to have been thrown into doubt last week - with the funding pencilled in for the £5million project apparently earmarked for the rail network instead.

However, councillors and residents said highways bosses had assured them that the work would go ahead.

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Rougham Parish Council chairman, Sara Mildmay-White, said: “I have been told the whole project is on track and we would be gutted if it doesn't happen.

“We have been waiting so long for this and it would be putting lives at risk if the work wasn't carried out.

“We are just so desperate to have a safe crossing - I don't think it is too much to ask in this day and age. For Rougham and the surrounding villages, it is a matter of life or death.”

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said the work for the A14 Rookery Crossroads had now gone out to tender.

“The A14 Rookery Crossroads schemes is in the Government's targeted programme of improvements and will go ahead. We are planning to start work during this financial year,” she added.

But Mid Suffolk district councillor for the area, Derrick Haley, said he had contacted the Highways Agency, but was still waiting for answers.

“The work on the Rookery Crossroads is essential and without it, and with the increase of traffic, there will certainly be more fatalities,” he warned.

“I have contacted the Highways Agency looking for reassurance and if I don't get them, I will be asking some serious questions to the Department of Transport.

“Traffic is getting heavier and heavier at the two exits, eastbound and westbound, and it is becoming more and more dangerous. I have lived in Thurston since 1969 and there has always been problems with those crossroads.”

There are thought to have been about 70 accidents at the Rookery Crossroads in the past five years.

Surveys have shown the number of people killed or seriously injured on the A14 between Bury St Edmunds and Beyton is 10% higher than the national average.

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