A11 dualling to open on target

CELIA WIGG Work on dualling the A11 Attleborough bypass is entering its final phase with the much-needed scheme on target to open early next year.

CELIA WIGG

Work on dualling the A11 Attleborough bypass is entering its final phase with the much-needed scheme on target to open early next year.

The latest aerial pictures, taken this week, show the 3.3mile stretch of dual carriageway costing £20million nearing completion. It is designed to improve safety and journey times, providing a better link between Norwich, London and Cambridge that will boost the local economy.

Local campaigners had been calling for the bypass to be widened for years - being one of only two remaining sections of the A11 trunk road still to be dualled - and their prayers were finally answered when preliminary works began back in mid-August 2005. This involved constructing two crossings under Ellingham and Deopham Roads and the re-routing of an Attleborough stream.

Then came the first major milestone - the building of a new road bridge at Queen's Road which started in autumn that year.

The scheme has seen improvements to other existing junctions, the new carriageway being located on the rural Great Ellingham side of the A11.

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At the beginning of October a new footbridge, weighing 62 tonnes was put in place by crane at West Carr, to provide a safe crossing point for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Concreting of the bridge deck took place earlier this month.

During the project, important environmental work has also been carried out to mitigate the effects of the earthworks and the widening of the road.

A major part has been creating a pond for protected water voles which were collected and moved to a temporary home when the stream was diverted, and have now been successfully reintroduced to their new habitat. A series of channels and islands were dug out this summer, and other species such as otter and fish have also been spotted.

A Highways Agency spokeswoman said: “The scheme is progressing very well, completion being scheduled for early 2007. Since starting on site, 240,000 man hours have been worked, and there are about 53 workers there at the moment, but that goes up and down.

“The last slip road, the Thetford-bound slip road, opened to traffic yesterday, and there is one lane open on each side of the carriageway - one to the north and one to the south. It will be a dualled bypass on opening.”

The 40mph speed limit will remain in force over the Christmas period for safety reasons, as some work on barriers and resurfacing is incomplete, and there will be give way signs replacing temporary traffic lights at the Queen's Road junction. Permanent traffic lights are due to be installed there after the New Year break.

More details about the Attleborough bypass improvements can be obtained online at www.highways.gov.uk