December 9 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 16, 2013
Transport minister Stephen Hammond is being driven along part of the A47 today to experience some of the problems on the road for himself as part of his visit to Norfolk.
Broadland MP Keith Simpson will be the minister’s chauffer as takes Mr Hammond along part of the road and shows him the “notorious” Acle Straight and equally “notorious” North Burlingham junction.
A new Wisbech bypass and improvements at the King’s Lynn Hardwick roundabout will also be among the priority schemes proposed to Mr Hammond during his visit.
The Vauxhall roundabout, near Great Yarmouth, and the A11 junction at Thickthorn have been identified as the “short-term priority” areas along the 105-mile stretch road through Norfolk.
Members of the A47 Alliance made their decision at a meeting in Peterborough on Friday – based not just on the current traffic problems along various parts of the road, but also its potential cost and whether the schemes would be feasible.
It meant dualling the Acle Straight – described by A47 Alliance chairman David Harrison as key to the whole route – was only listed as a medium-term improvement, while more research was done on the scheme.
Dualling the sections between Easton and North Tuddenham as well as Blofield to Burlingham were also described as medium-term options, while a new bypass at East Winch and Middleton was described as a “fairly long way off”.
Whereas short-term priority areas could see building work start in the next few years, longer term projects might not start until 2020 and beyond.
Mike Jackson, Norfolk County Council’s director of environment, transport and development, said the list of priorities was “not about what is more important but, in practical terms, what the delivery is like”.
He said the “overarching objective is to dual the road” but that it would take between 10 and 15 years in total, arguing that it made sense to focus on improving the road bit-by-bit.
He added Mr Hammond’s visit was a positive sign, with Highways Agency regional manager Alan Kirkdale saying it was “the start of a process to understand what the concerns are and how they can be taken forward”.