Could Suffolk’s A14 and A12 become part of new national “Expressway” network?
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Suffolk’s busiest roads have been included in a list of new national “Expressway” routes by the government – raising hopes that the A14 in the county could be in line for major improvements in years ahead.
And that would also mean the A12 between Colchester and Copdock could also be improved to ensure the region’s strategic road network was fit for the 21st century.
Highways England, the government-owned company with responsibility for the operation, maintenance and improvement of the motorways and trunk roads in England, has issued its Strategic Road Network Initial Report.
This provides a long list of those roads projects that have met the basic criteria for further evaluation by the Department for Transport.
The A14 in Suffolk is marked as a ‘“current, planned and potential expressway.” The report outlines the phased process in upgrading a highway into an expressway, including improvements to junctions with other roads – the key demand of the current campaign.
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That could cost hundreds of millions of pounds – the largest single project would be rebuilding the Copdock Interchange to the south of Ipswich.
The costs of that have not been fully estimated – but it would be well over £100m. Other junction improvements would not be as expensive, but could run into several million pounds each.
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However the financial benefit to the Suffolk economy could run into billions of pounds because the A14 is the key route to Britain’s busiest container port.
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill MP, chair of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce-led No More A14 Delays in Suffolk Strategy Board, welcomed the report.
She said: “This news is a huge motivator in our campaign to improve the A14 in Suffolk. Recognition of the need to upgrade the A14 to an expressway is incredibly promising.”
Stephen Britt, chair of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce’s Transport and Infrastructure Board added: “the inclusion of the A14 in Suffolk as a potential expressway is great news for the county and a vindication of the No More A14 Delays in Suffolk campaign.
“Expressways are motorway-grade two-lane highways and their designation requires that all junctions off and on to them are enhanced – the whole point of our lobbying efforts to address the seven major pinch points along the A14 in Suffolk.
“We now look forward to the Department for Transport’s consultation into this report where we will continue to make the case for the A14 – and other Suffolk projects – being included in the final Roads Investment Strategy document (RIS2).”
A Highways England Spokesman said: “The Expressways vision proposed in Highways England’s Initial Report outlines Highways England’s vision for the future and is subject to a consultation led by the Department for Transport.
“Once the consultation on the Initial Report has been completed and conclusions are known, we will be able to assess the implications for the A14. We will continue to engage with our stakeholders and keep people informed throughout the process.”
The seven pinch points on the A14 that the Chamber wants to see improved are:
Junction 37 (Exning) where the A14 meets the busy A142
Junction 43 (Bury St. Edmunds - Central) which suffers from significant tailbacks as it meets the A134
Junction 44 (Bury St Edmunds - Moreton Hall) which suffers from significant tailbacks, with a major development still to be built
Junction 55 (Copdock Interchange) where the A14 meets the busy A12 and A1214
Junction 56 (Ipswich - Wherstead) which reaches its safe capacity at peak times, especially with HGVs
Junction 57 (Ipswich - Ransomes Europark) which reaches its safe capacity at peak times, especially with HGVs
Junction 58 (Ipswich - Seven Hills) where the A14 meets the busy A12
What is an Expressway?
An Expressway is to be a new classification of road between a motorway and a traditional dual carriageway to show a route that would flow faster than at present.
Roads would be designated A(M) – therefore the roads in Suffolk would be called A12(M) and A14(M) and motorway restrictions would be introduced.
There would be no slow-moving agricultural machines allowed to use them. Traffic would not be held up by tractors on the Orwell Bridge.
And junctions would be improved to allow traffic to join and leave the road at the speed of the prevailing traffic.
There would be extra emergency spaces at the side for vehicles to pull off – but roads would remain two-lane, rather than three, for most of their length.
And their roadsigns would be painted blue like motorways rather than green like principle A routes at present.