Friday, July 4, 2014
East Anglia’s A47 and A12 has reached the final of the competition for funds – but there will not be enough cash for everyone to get everything, roads minister Robert Goodwill has said.
During a visit to East Anglia to see the key route from Lowestoft to Peterborough, the transport minister met members of the A47 Alliance – the campaigning organisation representing local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, businesses and road users along the A47 and A12.
It is calling for £416 million of targeted improvements over the next six years, and a commitment to fully dual the A47 – estimated to cost £1.4bn – in the longer term. MPs, who each joined him on a stretch of the route, are calling for a pledge to build two lanes in each direction on the whole route to Peterborough.
Mr Goodwill said: “Certainly that is a long term aspiration. But what we need to decide is where the best place to start doing that would be. The money in the budget for the six big schemes is not enough to do all of all the schemes in the first six years.”
But he did say there would not be only one winner in the competition for funds.
The A47, and later the A12, was added to a list of feasibility studies being carried out by the Highways Agency, with a view to announcing funds in the Autumn Statement later this year.
The minister, who is the second minister in less than a year to drive the route, with his predecessor Stephen Hammond visiting last September, dismissed suggestions by political opponents that it was a waste of time and money for him to drive the route.
“I had a delegation (of MPs) to see me in my ministerial office – actually it was more like a lynch mob than a delegation – and they made it quite clear I must come and see this road and see for myself first-hand the problems that are here.”
“It is not one of those competitions where there is only one winner. What we need to do is see what we can do most cost effectively to address some of the congestion problems and unlock some of the economic benefits,” he said.
Toby Coke, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s environment, development and transport Committee, said: “What we need is a firm commitment to fund the upgrading of the entire A47. The Government talks about infrastructure improvement, and it is needed here in Norfolk and our neighbouring counties now.”