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Calls continue for Acle Straight dualling despite planned safety upgrades

Acle Straight seen from the air.
Photo: Mike Page

Acle Straight seen from the air. Photo: Mike Page

Local leaders are confident the dualling of the Acle Straight will happen, despite another year of no confirmed plans.

The scene of a crash on the A47 near Acle involving a coach and a bus.
People on the coach are helped off.

Picture: James Bass The scene of a crash on the A47 near Acle involving a coach and a bus. People on the coach are helped off. Picture: James Bass

It comes on the back of a year where there have been at least 30 accidents along the notorious nine-mile stretch of road.

Highways England announced plans last week to start safety improvement works in February, but this move has sparked debate among councillors.

In a letter this week, Mick Castle, Norfolk county councillor for Yarmouth North and Central, argued that it would be a “waste of time and money”.

He said: “Only proper dualling of the road will ever deliver road safety and the modern road infrastructure our town deserves.”

ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

ACLE STRAIGHT NEAR GREAT YARMOUTH

DATED  ?

PLATE  P3197
ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT ACLE STRAIGHT NEAR GREAT YARMOUTH DATED ? PLATE P3197

Jonathan Childs, county councillor for the East Flegg ward, said: “Any work that would save lives on the road should be started as soon as possible, irrespective of cost and how they will fit in with any new road layouts. We need the road to be made safer now.”

Planned works in February include improvements to traffic signs, road markings, kerb alignment at the A47/A1064 roundabout and improvements to advance direction and warning signs at the Halvergate junction.

A number of issues has however held up the dualling of the road.

In October a letter published from Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis to Highways England announced it would take four years for tiny rare snails living in the dykes of the Straight to find a new home before a safety upgrade can begin.

Meanwhile other improvements around Great Yarmouth are also important in reducing congestion.

He said: “I have always been of the belief we need to dual the Straight but if we don’t sort out the Vauxhall roundabout there will be massive queues heading into Great Yarmouth so both that and the third river crossing are also hugely important. Safety is a concern, we get some serious crashes of cars going into the ditches, as well as from overtaking on the Straight.

“I feel there are additional safety measures that can be put in place and am keen to see these works completed so we can push for dualling of the road.

“Neither Highways England or transport ministers must lose sight of the long-term aim, of dualling the Acle Straight.”

In 2014 it was announced £30m had been allocated to improve the Vauxhall roundabout at the end of the A47, and a further £10m on safety improvements on the Acle Straight.

A case for the dualling of the road will be submitted to the government’s funding round for projects between 2020 and 2025.

Local businesses in the town are keeping their fingers crossed that the Acle Straight will be dualled, due to the benefits it will bring them.

Andy Kitchen, owner of Albies Taxis said: “We are a long way away from it happening if it ever will. It has been an ongoing problem for decades now – at the end of the day it just needs dualling. If there is an accident on the Acle Straight and it is closed down, then it affects our taxi drivers and people who are making journeys with us.”

Albert Jones, owner of Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, said: “If the money is there we need to push for it as soon as possible. Dualling the Acle Straight is what ultimately we in the tourism industry want.

“If we had everything in place then it would cut people’s journeys to Yarmouth, cut some of the traffic hold-ups and encourage more people to visit.

“But even if the road was dualled tomorrow, it will be fine heading to Norwich but there still would be massive queues at the roundabout heading into town.

“Really that and the third river crossing are just as important as we need to improve the overall congestion around the town, not just on the Straight.”

At least 30 accidents on the road this year

This year the EDP has reported on at least 30 crashes which have taken place on the Acle Straight.

According to the Network Analysis and Safety department at Norfolk County

Council, there have been 32 collisions on the Acle Straight recorded where injuries have been suffered between in three years up to October 2016.

Of these;

■One suffered a fatal injury

■11 suffered a serious injury

■20 suffered a slight injury.

The department has also recorded the causes of collision where people have been injured

The analysis shows;

■14 tail end collisions

■12 vehicles into opposing carriageway (overtaking or losing control) – head-on collision or left carriageway to offside

■Three left road to nearside

■One U-turn

■One failure to give way

■One vehicle lost load which hit following vehicle.

Back in 2012, data was released via a Freedom of Information Request which showed the number of fatalaccidents on the road between January 1992 and April of 2012. During that time there were 19 fatal collisions recorded.

Between April 2012 and October 2013 there was at least one other fatal crash

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