Suffolk: Bid to tackle A14 faults

CAMPAIGNERS last night welcomed Government plans to look for solutions to reduce congestion on the A14 by involving local community groups.

A campaign group, made up of councils and other organisations in Suffolk, said the Government has accepted its offer to help find a way of easing traffic on the busy road. A study will now be undertaken to look at cost-effective proposals which could ease congestion.

There had been Highways Agency plans for a �1.1billion widening scheme between Ellington, near Huntingdon, and Fen Ditton, near Cambridge, but last year the Department for Transport revealed the investment had been postponed indefinitely.

Now the department will undertake a study – which it expects to cover most or all of the cost for – working with local stakeholders.

Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, said: “We recognise that the A14 corridor faces severe congestion and that mobility along the route is critical for economic success and growth.

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“That is why we are undertaking a study with local stakeholders to identify cost-effective and practical proposals which bring benefits and relieve congestion – looking across modes to ensure we develop sustainable proposals.”

West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock said this was an “important signal” that the Government was making progress.

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“It shows things are moving forward and the Government is taking seriously the difficult challenge of improving congestion when there isn’t much money to go around.”

He added: “It’s good news for people who get stuck on the A14.”

Mr Hancock said he wanted to see which solutions would work, whether that was changing the times roadworks took place or working with haulage companies which control lots of vehicles.

He said: “It’s crucial we work together to find solutions we haven’t thought of before.”

Guy McGregor, cabinet member for roads, transport and planning at Suffolk County Council, said by looking at affordable solutions the Government was showing “realism”.

He said: “The cost of this scheme by the Highways Agency was running into hundreds of millions of pounds. Huge sums of money and they simply had to have a reality check.”

He also believed working with haulage companies could help cut congestion, and mentioned how improvements to the rail network should see less traffic on the A14, which is a heavily used trunk road linking the Port of Felixstowe with the Midlands.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We are currently developing the detailed scope of the study and no definite proposals have yet been identified.

“The aim of the study is to identify cost-effective and practical proposals which bring benefits and relieve congestion.

“This approach will also provide an opportunity for the private sector to play its part in developing schemes to tackle existing problems in the corridor.”

He added how any solutions would be taken up in a future spending review period, and could be Government funded or part Government funded and could involve private sector funding.

The Department for Transport hopes to report back on the study by the middle of 2012.

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