Jams on A11 are costing millions

Politicians and business leaders have renewed their plea for dualling of the A11 to be brought forward, claiming delays on the choked single-carriageway section are costing the local economy millions of pounds a year.

Politicians and business leaders last night renewed their plea for dualling of the A11 to be brought forward, claiming delays on the choked single-carriageway section are costing the local economy millions of pounds a year.

New figures reveal firms using the road are losing an average £21,000 a year due to hold-ups - 16pc more than companies anywhere else in the country.

Businesses made a fresh appeal to the government to speed up the project which would see the upgrading of the critical Thetford/Barton Mills section of the road.

And the county councillor responsible for transport said it was “deplorable” that Norwich remained the only city in the country without a totally dualled link to London.

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Norwich and Thetford have both been granted Growth Status Point by the government, leading to expansion with thousands of new homes and jobs - but put more pressure on the A11.

Companies claim the congested A11 which sees traffic reduced to a trickle virtually all day every day is stunting growth and are adamant that ministers bring forward improvement work - estimated to start in 2012.

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“Congestion on the A11 has a serious effect on our business,” said Simon Long, director of the Thetford-based Simon Long Removals.

“The Thetford/Barton Mills section of the road used to be congested mainly in the morning, but things are bad now throughout the whole day. Lorries spend on average 31 minutes to get to the five-arm roundabout outside the town, when the normal journey to the roundabout should take no more than 13 minutes. This is costing us money. We have just calculated that with the time and money wasted on roads, we could employ two people every year.

“The problem should be sorted out as soon as possible, otherwise it will be difficult for Thetford to experience real growth,” he added.

Last night business representatives at Norfolk Chamber of Commerce echoed the call, urging transport bosses to speed up the project estimated to cost £101m.

“We have calculated earlier this year that traffic congestion costs Norfolk businesses on average £21,000. This is 16pc more than what their peers elsewhere in the country pay. The national average is £18,000. There has to be an urgent solution to this problem” said Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.

During the investigation which surveyed nearly 200 businesses, the Chamber also found that 83pc of companies claimed their transport requirements were not met.

“Thetford is the gateway to Norfolk and the A11 is the main road linking the county to other parts of the country,” said William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council.

“We are looking to step up the pressure on the government to bring works forward.”

Mr Nunn's call was echoed by Norfolk County Council and the East of England Development Agency who insisted that they would urge the Government to make the dualling of the A11 a priority.

County councillor responsible for planning and transportation Adrian Gunson said: “Dualling of that section of the A11 remains top of the county council's priorities for Norfolk.

“We press the government at every opportunity and will continue to do so. The regional assembly is reviewing its priorities quite soon and my message will be 'get a move on and give approval for dualling the last section of the A11 to start as quickly as possible.'”

Mr Gunson said the dualling was “desperately needed”, especially with all the growth planned for Norwich, Thetford and Norfolk as a whole.

“It is deplorable that Norwich and Norfolk has not got a dual carriageway all the way to London.”

Last night, the East of England Regional Assembly said the dualling of the A11 was one of its highest priorities and insisted it recommended that a large part of the regional transport budget is spent on making it happen.

John Reynolds, chairman of the EERA said: “The Assembly is lobbying the Government to invest more in the East of England, particularly transport, and we welcome any support for that campaign.

“Attention should now be focused on putting pressure on the Government to speed up transport improvements as they are responsible for both allocating and controlling funding.”


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