Roads minister Robert Goodwill - ‘More evidence is needed to justify A47 improvements’

Proof is still needed that an A47 upgrade is the best way to spend taxpayers money, new roads minister Robert Goodwill has claimed.

But the new face at the Department of Transport said that the fact the road had got itself on a list of only seven major road schemes showed there was case.

In an exclusive first interview on the A47 with the Eastern Daily Press the Tory minister listed a number of hurdles to an upgrade, but also said if these were overcome improvements could be delivered by the end of the decade.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said in the summer that the A47 would join six other projects which would be subject to a feasibility study following Chancellor George Osborne's spending review.

Mr Goodwill said: 'It is not a very long list. We have got seven on this list. It is not like we are scattergunning across the whole country. There are seven routes, mainly to do with dual carriageway issues.'

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He added that he hoped a scoping study would be concluded this year and then there would be a full 'cost benefit analysis'.

He said the A47 Alliance - a group of businesses and politicians who had put together a case for an upgrade including work which showed it could have a huge economic impact on the area - had already made a number of very very important points that would be taken into account.

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He said: 'They have got themselves to first base. The alliance cannot quite relax, but they can be satisfied that they have got themselves to first base and now we need, through the cost-benefit analysis, to look at, for example, which bits of the road might be priorities, and how the parameters that are considered in terms of any major road project apply in this case.

'Once the project gets through that hurdle, when they get to second base, it is not shovel ready. There is work to be done in terms of planning,basically it joins a queue with other projects that are in the stream.

'It's like a sausage machine. It is in the machine and it will come out as a sausage and it could be possibly up to five years before we get it there. That is a typical major road project.'

The government has pledged to spend £28 billion on major road projects between now and 2020, which Mr Goodwill said was £10bn more than the first stage of the controversial High Speed Two north-south rail link.

'If anybody says we haven't got money for road because we are spending it all on high speed two that is not the case,' he added.

He said that they were aware of the safety issues and added: 'The most important way you can make a road safer is by making it a dual carriageway.'

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