December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
It has been on the cards since 1971.
But the dream of a dualled A47 Acle Straight appears no closer to becoming a reality, and people in the Great Yarmouth borough have grown wary of talk from politicians.
The latest transport minister to visit Yarmouth acknowledged this, but said progress is being made.
“Locals are right to be cynical,” said Stephen Hammond, the roads minister. “Governments of all hue have talked about it, but it’s different this time. “The A47 project group has got together, it’s across counties, has the support of seven or eight MPs and has been a really powerful statement.
“It’s been very firmly on my radar.”
He said the recently announced feasibility study will help identify key priorities for 2015, but he would not be drawn on a timescale in which work might happen.
Yet he accepted the stretch of road between the Acle roundabout and Yarmouth is an issue, and has met with Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis on the matter.
“He has spoken to me about it and we spoke last Tuesday,” added Mr Hammond. “I’m hoping to return to have a look around with him.
“Clearly on the Straight there are issues about safety which I recognise.”
Mr Hammond refused to talk specifically about the likelihood of Acle Straight dualling getting the go-ahead, instead talking about the A47 as a whole.
Long-standing concerns about the stretch of road include safety and congestion stifling business growth in Yarmouth.
But opponents include wildlife groups keen to protect the dykes, which they say are a habitat for endangered water voles.
Mr Lewis has previously called for the Acle Straight to be upgraded from a comprehensive route to a Trans European Network Transport (TENT) One route in a bid to help secure EU funding.
Mr Hammond said he hoped to announce the scope of the feasibility study by Christmas.