Anger over ‘jaw-dropping’ wait for A47 improvements amid delay fears
- Credit: James Bass
Furious MPs, councillors and business leaders have slammed Highways England for 'going backwards', after it emerged key improvements to the A47 are facing delays.
Highways England said they need to look again at the designs for the Vauxhall and Gapton roundabouts at Great Yarmouth - because of the potential traffic impact from the mooted Third River Crossing.
And that will delay work starting on improvements to those junctions, which are part of a £300m package for the A47. It was originally hoped work would start in 2018/19.
The prospect of a delay was described as a "kick in the teeth" by Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council.
He said the Third River Crossing, which will span the Yare to link the A47 at Harfrey's roundabout to South Denes Road, would not take away the need for improvements to the Vauxhall roundabout - Yarmouth's gateway from the A47.
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He said: "We have fought for years to get this investment, only to be told a new scheme a mile down the road is going to halt the progress in making the Vauxhall Roundabout suitable for a dual carriageway.
"We will have another five years of the roads being clogged up, making it difficult for businesses to operate."
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Independent county councillor Mick Castle said the time it was taking for any work to start was "jaw-dropping". while Chris Starkie, chief executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "The only progress I can see is backwards."
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: "It is another example, it would appear, of the A47 not being given the priority it deserves."
Peter Havlicek, Highways England lead for the A47, said the Third River Crossing would bring a "significant change to traffic flows" and the agency needed to ensure what they proposed still offered value for money.
He said: "We have to make sure we get the right solution for Great Yarmouth."
A regional delegation will tomorrow go to Westminster to press transport secretary Chris Grayling for money to fully dual the A47 through the next tranche of government cash for roads.
It is part of the Just Dual It! campaign, backed by the EDP, the county council and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.