Anger over A47 junction safety plan

Residents of a mid-Norfolk village have condemned plans for a new junction on the A47 between Dereham and Norwich.The Highways Agency plans to build a new roundabout on the A47 at the junction with the Mattishall Road in a bid to improve safety, after the stretch of road claimed two lives in the past six years.

Residents of a mid-Norfolk village have condemned plans for a new junction on the A47 between Dereham and Norwich.

The Highways Agency plans to build a new roundabout on the A47 at the junction with the Mattishall Road in a bid to improve safety, after the stretch of road claimed two lives in the past six years.

But campaigners in Hockering have dismissed the project, calling for work instead less than a mile away at Wood Lane.

They have called for a road to link the A47 with the A1067 and a four to five-arm roundabout.

They say it would not only give safe access to the A47, but also divert heavy lorries out of Hockering.

“We're very worried that, now the Highways Agency is building a roundabout at Mattishall Road, Norfolk County Council [as the other highways authority] will go for a cheap, fudge junction,” said Richard Hawker, Hockering parish councillor,.

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“We have found from our meetings with others to date that almost all the road users require a safe purpose-made road. Wood Lane is the only potential site that fulfils all of these requirements,” he added.

But last night, John Skillings, co-ordinator of the A47 Alliance, said the only viable alternative was Mattishall Road.

“We are completely endorsing the proposal by the Highways Agency,” he said.

“They did a full investigation and that was the option that they came up with. Currently, Mattishall Road has the worst accident road record than anywhere else on the A47.

“Initially, the agency said it would consider building the roundabout in 2010, but they have recognised the importance of improving road safety in that area and have now fast-tracked the plans so that works are due to start in spring 2008,” he added.

Andrea Jackson, whose son, David, was killed in a car crash at the Mattishall Road junction in October 2005, welcomed the news, but said she was surprised to hear the Highways Agency had chosen Mattishall over Wood Lane.

“I'm really pleased to hear that they are doing something about it,” she said.

David Pearson, head of the Norwich Area Transport Strategy at Norfolk County Council, said a consultation would be held between July to September, asking for people's views on the scheme.

He added: “The parish council has strong views that the road be as far away from Hockering as possible, however we must consider what is best for all areas affected by the improvements.”

A meeting will also be held tomorrow at Hockering Parish Council to discuss the route options.

Work on the A47 at Dereham continues, with low noise material between Ascot Gardens Subway and Etling Green junction being put in place. The westbound carriageway will be closed throughout July, but the Highways Agency said restrictions will be lifted while the Royal Norfolk Show is taking place, tomorrow and Thursday.

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