Road snub provokes anger
FURIOUS campaigners have hit out at highways bosses after a "badly needed" road dualling scheme was postponed – just two months after chiefs issued assurances to the contrary.
FURIOUS campaigners have hit out at highways bosses after a "badly needed" road dualling scheme was postponed - just two months after chiefs issued assurances to the contrary.
Residents fighting for improvements along a section of the A11 stretching from Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, to Thetford, said yesterday they felt "let down" by the news that no timescale could now be put on the scheme - work on which was originally scheduled to start next spring.
The blow comes after the project was not included in a raft of Department of Transport (DfT) funding announced by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling on Wednesday.
And although the Highways Agency insists the planned dualling is still in the pipeline, officials cannot yet provide any idea when work may start.
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Rona Burt, a Forest Heath District Councillor who lives in Tuddenham, off the A11, said: "I am really quite cross because we were assured this was going to go ahead. It seems that we have been let down an awful lot.
"We had concerns about the A11 so we invited representatives from the Highways Agency to a parish council meeting only a couple of months ago. They assured us this would go ahead. Things seem to have changed pretty quickly since then.
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"The Highways Agency can say it is in the pipeline, but it could be a long way down that pipeline."
Campaigners fighting for the improvements reacted with joy in 2003 after highways bosses promised details of the multi-million pound scheme would be published in Spring 2004, with work scheduled to start in early 2005.
However they are now demanding an explanation and say the route - described by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring as a "slaughter track" - needs desperate attention.
"We want some answers," added Mrs Burt. "The A11 is horrendous, and a lot of people try to avoid using it. You can guarantee there will be hold ups, and it is an awful route to drive along if it is dark.
"You cannot see the edge of the road and the A11 is very poorly maintained, so this work is badly needed. There have also been several accidents along the route.
"I will certainly be writing to the Highways Agency about this as I am very disappointed."
The plans for the A11 encompassed the notorious Fiveways Roundabout stretch, at Mildenhall, where several motorists have lost their lives over recent years.
However, a Highways Agency spokesman stressed the project would not be abandoned, saying: "These schemes have not been rejected.
"They are still in the Highways Agency's programme and the Highways Agency is committed to developing them.
"The effect of the announcement is that these schemes will be remitted for consideration by the regional transport bodies.
"The Department of Transport will consult with the regional planning bodies on how best to do this."