March 10 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The drive to improve the A47 will be taken to the heart of government today as a coalition of campaigners present their demands to transport minister Robert Goodwill.
Lobbyists from locations and organisations along the length of the key road will visit Westminister to urge Mr Goodwill to put dualling plans into top gear to “unlock the economic potential of the region”.
MPs from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire will meet Mr Goodwill to make the case for the full dualling of the A47 - supported by David Harrison, chairman of the A47 Alliance steering group.
The group, which met yesterday to finalise its business case for the road, will tell the minister that “real progress” is needed - and present him with a three-phase, £900m timetable.
The MPs and the A47 Alliance will emphasise that the ports of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth will provide for increased trade along the route to mainland Europe.
And they will tell Mr Goodwill that the ever-expanding science parks around Norwich are “global leaders” - while a fully dualled A47 would boost employment in the King’s Lynn and Peterborough areas.
At yesterday’s meeting at King’s Lynn, the A47 Alliance steering group discussed the new eight-page ‘A47 Gateway to Growth’ business case for improvements.
The alliance aims to secure the dualling of the whole route from the A1 at Peterborough to what is currently the A12 at Lowestoft, but over the shorter term, it wants to tackle congestion hotspots and inadequate junctions.
It proposes targeted investment of £127m in 2014 to 2017, a further £247m by 2021, and £425m in the longer term (after 2021).
The meeting heard that dualling of the stretch of road between Burlingham and Acle could be put forward early, as work on the scheme was well advanced.
David Harrison, alliance chairman and Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport, told the meeting: “We are at a critical point in the whole process and at the cusp.
“We are 6th in the list for improvements to trunk roads in the country, and, hopefully, with pressure from the region’s MPs behind us, we can make some real progress by meeting Mr Goodwill.”
He said the alliance would meet the minister with the message that the A47 was not fit for purpose and that its case was as strategically important as any other.
Tom McCabe, the council’s director of environment, transport and development, said: “We need to make sure the new minister understands the issues and the work that has gone into our case. And to understand that by unlocking investment the A47 will unlock jobs, houses and knock half an hour off the journey time.”
The meeting was told the alliance was already ahead of the game because of the preparatory work it had carried out.
Alan Kirkdale, from the Highways Agency, told the meeting that investment in roads nationally would increase from about £1bn a year to £3bn in the next decade.
He said: “There is a big chunk of money that has not yet been allocated. This will be the biggest investment in roads since the 1970s and everyone is after a piece of the cake.”
He said ministers would be looking to announce new transport schemes in the autumn statement, with those achievable within the next few years- including the Burlingham to Acle dualling -best placed.
What do you think of the A47 improvement plans? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk