U.S. urged to pay for road improvements

By Dave Gooderham and Jenni DixonAMERICAN military chiefs have been urged to pay for vital road improvements rather than spend millions of pounds on air base facilities.

By Dave Gooderham and Jenni Dixon

AMERICAN military chiefs have been urged to pay for vital road improvements rather than spend millions of pounds on air base facilities.

Paul Desjardins has urged top brass at RAF Mildenhall to help Suffolk County Council fund safety measures in an effort to prevent further fatalities on Suffolk's roads following the death of seven Americans this year.

Military personnel have already been banned from overtaking under tough new guidelines designed to cut the deaths.

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But in a letter to the official forces newspaper Stars & Stripes, Mr Desjardins said he thought the base should help the county council fund off-site improvements as well as expansion within RAF Mildenhall.

Mr Desjardins, a resident of the Mildenhall area, added: “The U.S. military can volunteer to pay for British council road improvements.

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“There sure seems to be enough money to build a new control tower and make base-wide improvements, but what about the service members' safety, travelling to and from work?

“Try travelling the A1101 along Mildenhall's runway at night with oncoming headlights. Can you see the kerb? Shouldn't the safety people put their money where their mouth is.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council's environment and transport department said it would welcome any help with funding.

“The county council would be pleased to work in partnership with the air base on any programme to improve road safety,” she added.

Servicemen and women at RAF Mildenhall are still reeling after seven colleagues or family members were killed on roads near the air base this year.

A memorial service for the latest victim, Staff Sgt Sean Bortel, who died just three weeks after arriving in the country, will be held today.

Staff Sgt Sean Bortel, 26, became the latest road crash victim when his car was involved in a collision with a lorry on the A1101 at Shippea Hill in Cambridgeshire.

The accident was just three miles from the scene of an horrific car crash on September 26 when Cortina Hamilton and children Alyssa, three, Malik, 22 months, and stepson Jalin, five, died after their car plunged into a 20ft ditch on the A1101 at Burnt Fen, near Mildenhall.

Following the deaths, military chiefs issued tough guidelines to American personnel at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, warning they could face military action if they overtook on Suffolk's roads.

Residents living near the base were urged to support the initiative and inform military officials if they saw any American motorists driving dangerous.

Colonel Richard Devereaux, of RAF Mildenhall's 100th Air Refuelling Wing, said he hoped servicemen and women would show “self-regulation” and adhere to the direct order.


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