Vital A11 dualling is 'priority' project

CAMPAIGNERS who have spent almost 40 years fighting for vital improvements to one of East Anglia's most treacherous roads last night welcomed a decision which could see work start in two years.

Will Clarke

CAMPAIGNERS who have spent almost 40 years fighting for vital improvements to one of East Anglia's most treacherous roads last night welcomed a decision which could see work start in two years.

The region's top transport chiefs met yesterday and classed the urgent dualling of the only section of the A11 to remain a single carriageway as a “priority”.

The notorious bottleneck - between the Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, and Thetford - has been blamed for heavy traffic and accidents.


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If the estimated £135million project is backed by the Government then construction could begin in 2010.

It is hoped the recommendation by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) will provide the economic and road safety boost campaigners have been fighting for since the early 1970s.

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Conservative MP Richard Spring, whose constituency includes the road's most blighted sections, said the decision is a “very significant” step forward.

“The assembly has finally concluded this road is the highest priority and it is a crucial step toward government funding and approval,” he said. “The story is not over but it enables the Highways Agency to get the ball rolling.”

Eddy Alcock, Suffolk County Council's environment and waste management portfolio holder, who represents the county on EERA's transport planning panel, said there was no reason why work on the A11 should not start before 2010/11.

“Today's proposal is fully supported by Suffolk as an economically important route,” he said. “It doesn't mean it is certain but I am very confident.”

The next steps will involve the Highways Agency, which is set to complete a timetable for dualling.

The scheme also needs to be submitted to transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, for final approval.

A spokesman for EERA said: “The panel has supported the recommendations to ask the Secretary of State for Transport to start dualling the A11 as a soon as possible. The assembly has given its backing and it is now up to the Government to bring it forward.”

David Bowers, whose mother, Christine, died on the A11 at Christmas 2001, said: “I am pleased the decision has gone through but I am not holding my breath. This should have been done years ago - what else can you say to get it done?”

Carole Youngs, clerk of Elveden Parish Council, which currently has the A11 bottleneck at its heart, said: “If it goes ahead it will be very good news but I think we have a long way to go.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said they looked forward to receiving the region's formal advice and would respond as soon as possible.

“Subject to completion of statutory procedures, the scheme is currently programmed to start construction in 2012/13 but we are continuing, as before, to progress development work so that it will be possible to start construction in 2010/11 should funding become available,” she added.

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