December 11 2013 Latest news:
By CHRIS HILL
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
County transport chiefs are seeking a meeting with the new roads minister to push the long-term goal of dualling the Acle Straight further up the political agenda.
The economic justifications for improving the whole of the A47 were laid out early this year in a consultant’s report which estimated that it could contribute almost 10,000 Norfolk jobs and £390m a year to the East Anglian economy.
But the report, commissioned by Norfolk County Council, also said £200m of investment was needed to fix bottlenecks at junctions around King’s Lynn and Norwich – and to widen the single-lane Acle Straight.
Last week, the Campaign for Better Transport included the dualling of the stretch on its published map of so-called “zombie roads” – projects which had been presumed dead, but had been “revived” by local authorities and business partnerships.
Norfolk County Council says the scheme remains a long-term ambition, and a meeting is being sought with roads minister Stephen Hammond, who replaced Mike Penning after last month’s cabinet reshuffle.
Meanwhile, the council is focusing on improvements at pinch-points and under-capacity junctions like Postwick outside Norwich and the Vauxhall roundabout in Great Yarmouth.
John Birchall, a transport spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said: “The Acle Straight has a very long history and we are very keen to bring it up the agenda in terms of priority.
“In real terms the dualling of the A47 remains a long-term ambition, but higher priority is going to be given to dealing with some of the pinch-points like the Vauxhall Roundabout, which are more important in terms of the traffic flow on the Acle Straight.
“There are a number of other junctions like Postwick and Longwater. We are talking about targeted improvements bringing real economic benefits. That is the realistic approach which is being adopted.
“At the end of the day, we recognise that the A47 needs to be dualled all the way from Great Yarmouth to the A1, but a lot can be achieved before then by dealing with these pinch-points and under-capacity junctions.”
Mr Birchall said although targeted improvements planned at junctions could bring significant benefits, any final decisions about the dualling of the road would rest with the Highways Agency.
“At the end of the day, the A47 is a trunk road, so all we can do is encourage and contribute with junction improvements,” he said. “It is the Highways Agency and the government that will decide what to do to improve the trunk network. We are hoping to raise it with the new transport minister some time later in the autumn, and that discussion will include all these things.
“We are actively trying to raise the profile of the importance of the A47, both for its transport significance and its importance for Norfolk’s economy.”