December 10 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The Secretary of State for Transport has insisted work to revamp the region’s transport infrastructure will put it on the fast track to economic growth.
The Eastern Daily Press exclusively reported yesterday how Patrick McLoughlin MP had put the A47 upgrade back on the government’s agenda.
And the minister was in the region yesterday to see how work on the long-awaited A11 dualling project was developing.
Mr McLoughlin was also taken to a notorious bottleneck in Brandon, where plans to build a relief road are gathering pace following years of traffic misery for commuters.
He said it was time for the region’s roads and rail to be brought up to speed.
“One of the things that has put people off coming to Norwich, Norfolk or East Anglia in general is bad road infrastructure. It’s always been seen as being very badly served.
“I hope that projects such as this one on the A11 can change that perception.
“I am very impressed with what I have seen and when the work is finished it is going to make a tremendous difference to this region – it’s very encouraging,” he said.
Mr McLoughlin added that funding for the A47 scoping project was a sign of the government’s commitment to funding road projects following the Spending Review in June.
“We recognise the importance of transport and communications in the UK. It’s no understatement to say that when transport slows, everything slows, and when it stops, everything stops,” he said.
Mr McLoughlin also had the opportunity to talk to Rowland Potter from the Highways Agency, assistant project manager for the A11 scheme.
Mr Potter said the project was coming in on schedule and under budget.
“It’s going very smoothly and we’ve been helped by the good weather and help from local stakeholders,” he said.
The project leaders have been in constant contact with Norfolk and Suffolk County Council throughout the project, according to Mr Potter, while a series of meetings with town and parish councils are planned for the next few months to keep residents and councillors updated.
He said the next stage of the £128m project was to connect the existing road to the new carriageways built around Elveden.
The northbound carriageway just after the River Lark bridge should be reconnected in early September with the southbound carriageway reconnecting just after the Elveden War Memorial soon after.
Mr Potter also took the opportunity to defend road closures which are set to take place over three weekends in October.
“We’ve taken lots of time and consulted with as many people as we could in planning the closures. The preliminary work we have done at night has meant it only has to be six days rather than six weeks,” he said.
Mr McLoughlin was joined on his visit by Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, and Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk.
Ms Truss said the A11 project would be of huge importance to her constituency.
“This project will have a massive impact for towns like Thetford. Businesses here are going to be the main beneficiaries of this and I know that many in the town have already started to prepare for when it’s completed.
“We need improvements to transport in this region and we are asking for improvements to the roads and to rail. Thetford is now having a town masterplan done, the new school is being completed and there is a lot going on to capitalise on.
“It’s a very exciting moment for Thetford and a good opportunity for it,” she said.
Ms Truss added that a feasibility study was to be carried out in the area and said the secretary of state’s visit proved the increasing significance of East Anglia in the government’s thinking.
Matthew Hancock said: “Everybody knows my position on the A11; I am right behind this project. Once it is completed we will see huge benefits for this area and the work they have done so far is tremendous.”