Public inquiry into road scheme ends
A PUBLIC inquiry looking at a proposed multi-million pound scheme to make a notorious stretch of the A14 safer has come to an end.The planned road improvements, between Haughley and Stowmarket, will create a new route to eliminate the bends where there have been many serious accidents.
A PUBLIC inquiry looking at a proposed multi-million pound scheme to make a notorious stretch of the A14 safer has come to an end.
The planned road improvements, between Haughley and Stowmarket, will create a new route to eliminate the bends where there have been many serious accidents.
However since draft orders for the £32million scheme were published in March there have been a series of complaints from objectors, who have suggested a number of alternatives.
A public inquiry into the plans, held at Cedars Hotel in Needham Road, Stowmarket, finished on Tuesday and a Government inspector is expected to make an announcement in the New Year, so that if given the go-ahead work can be completed by 2008.
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There were 13 serious accidents on the A14 near Haughley between 1999 and 2002 but the stretch, which has a 50mph speed limit, experienced no serious accidents in 2003 or 2004 after speed cameras were introduced on each carriageway.
The Highways Agency is seeking to make this road safer by straightening the road and minimising the number of junctions.
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It says the proposed straightened route with fewer junctions will help reduce congestion on the section of road
However campaigners say if the work is a proper upgrade then it should also improve cycle and pedestrian routes between Stowmarket and nearby villages.
David Barker, vice-chairman of the Suffolk Local Access Forum (SLAF), said: “We had hoped we would be able to negotiate something with the Highways Agency so that it wouldn't come to a public inquiry but unfortunately they didn't absorb what we had to say.
“The real problem is the danger of people trying to cross at the proposed new junction at Tothill. For those on horse back to have to join the traffic and negotiate two roundabouts, a bridge and a two-way road to connect to bridle paths either side of the new junction is dangerous.
“I think we all understand the new scheme will be safer for vehicles but our real concerns are for pedestrians. I really hope the inspector will address this problem but only time will tell.”
A spokesperson for the Highways Agency said they did not want to pre-empt the decision of the Government inspector.
She said: “At this stage we are limited to what we can say but I can confirm the inquiry was closed on Tuesday and that the inspector went on a site visit on Wednesday so he could look at the road in relation to peoples' objections and comments.”
She said the Highways Agency was expecting the inspector to make a decision in the New Year.