Rival council criticises A140 action

By Jonathan Barnes and Graham DinesFEARS were raised last night whether a plan to cut speed limits on the notorious A140 would be enough to improve its appalling accident record.

By Jonathan Barnes and Graham Dines

FEARS were raised last night whether a plan to cut speed limits on the notorious A140 would be enough to improve its appalling accident record.

Suffolk county councillors have approved a proposal for a maximum 50mph speed limit on the road between Coddenham and the Norfolk border after more than 80 deaths over the past two decades.

But a neighbouring county council and a campaigner for improvements to the road have criticised the move, claiming it would not solve the road's problems and would create new hazards.

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County councillors authorised yesterday an 18-month order and the limits should be put in place early in the New Year.

The results will be monitored in the autumn of next year with a view to making the limits permanent.

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An experimental limit of 50mph on open stretches of the road between Coddenham and the Norfolk border will be coupled with 30mph zones at Brockford Street, Stonham Parva, and Earl Stonham, and a 40mph limit at Brome.

Other safety measures to be introduced included fixed and mobile speed cameras and the installatiojn of electronic notice boards which will flash “Too Close” or “Too Fast” to warn drivers of the speed.

But Adrian Gunson, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for planning and transportation, said the new limits would prove problematic for drivers and create different types of accidents through congested traffic.

He feared the wealth of new limits would create delays and convoys and force drivers on to other roads to avoid jams.

“It's not that Suffolk is doing this as an interim measure until major improvements are carried out - there are no medium to long-term plans,” said Mr Gunson.

“These limits are on a major, principal road and people expect to go at a reasonable speed.

“The road should be brought up to standard with dualling and bypasses - it's the only way to avoid the type of accidents we are seeing and they should be doing that rather than putting in speed limits.”

He added: “They need to address the fundamental problem, which is the road is not adequate in its present form for the traffic it is carrying or will carry in the future.

“We are working hard on the Norfolk side of the road to make it safe and suitable for the traffic it carries.”

Jeffrey Stansfield, a former county surveyor and former county councillor, vowed to continue pressing for what he called proper solutions to the road's problems.

“I have no objections to the speed limits, but they need to be supplemented by proper engineering work,” he said.

“The committee might have passed the plans, but nothing will convince me they are right and I am wrong. My views haven't changed one iota over the years.

“The road needs engineering improvements, lengths of dual carriageway, better visibility and a proper layout.

“There are two major problems - bad driving and a bad road. These speed limits might address the bad driving, but what about the bad road?”

Although the county councillors unanimously backed the plan, some were concerned the measures did not go far enough and Conservative member Jeremy Clover called them “too little, too late”.

Rights of Way sub-committee chairman, Baroness Scott of Needham Market, said: “This experiment is a compromise, but we are prepared to give it a try.

“If it doesn't work, we will review the route management strategy and look at alternatives.”

A campaign over almost two decades to persuade the Government to dual the road failed because of the projected £200million cost.

Two years' ago, the A140 was de-trunked, with the Highways Agency handing over responsibly for the road to the county council.

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