Motorists face A14 roadworks misery

MAJOR roadworks could be carried out on Suffolk's busiest carriageway after highways chiefs found holes beneath a recently opened crossroads.

Will Clarke

MAJOR roadworks could be carried out on Suffolk's busiest carriageway after highways chiefs found holes beneath a recently opened crossroads.

The Highways Agency engineers have identified “cavities” as the latest cause of the subsidence on the A14 at the site of the multimillion pound improvements at the former Rookery Crossroads at Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds.

The stretch, which first opened in 2006, has been plagued with problems, which police have connected with one serious road accident.

Motorists have been delayed by a 50mph limit and engineers using radar to find the underground faults.

The results of January's survey, carried out along both the eastbound and westbound carriageways, has highlighted areas below the road surface which “could indicate the presence of cavities or less dense materials”.

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The Highways Agency is now considering the options for filling these cavities in the short term which will then allow time for the design of a permanent solution.

But engineers have admitted it will be tough for them to find a solution.

Brian Pitkin, route performance manager for the Highways Agency, said: “Since the subsidence first appeared, our main priority has been to keep the road open and safe.

“Identifying a long-term solution has proved to be particularly difficult. We appreciate the inconvenience this has caused and we ask for the patience of road users at this location.”

An agency spokeswoman said whatever solution they chose contractors would keep closures to a minimum by working overnight.

She said: “The extent of the problems isn't fully known yet, options for repair are being considered and because of that we have no indication of what the costs will be.

“The Highways Agency will be paying (for the repairs) initially but we will be looking to see if the costs can be recovered from the contractor.

“The Highways Agency plan all their works to cause the minimum disruption to the public. Where possible they will be looking to carry out work overnight.”

Engineers have also used core samples taken in the summer as well as CCTV images of the road to help design a permanent solution.