Start date given for key step in much-anticipated A47 upgrade project

The launch of the A47 improvements campaign at the Royal Norfolk Showground. MP for Broadland, Keith

The launch of the A47 improvements campaign at the Royal Norfolk Showground. MP for Broadland, Keith Simpson. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

A public consultation - a key step in the upgrade of the A47 - will begin in March, the government said today.

Two years after the money was earmarked to improve six parts of the major road in East Anglia - including three stretches of dual carriageway - the public will be able to have a say on the plans.

Highways England had previously said it would hold a public consultation on options for the improvements by the end of last year.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson, who has been campaigning for years, said he welcomed the news.

But he said progress was 'crab-like' and the upgrade was only crawling fowrard.

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'The point is to keep the momentum going. Hopefully the consutation is going to be positive and it will convince highways England of the righteousness of cause.' He urged people to email and write in to say how important the scheme is.

The start-date was hailed by transport secretary Chris Grayling, who said the scheme would not only help relieve congestion, but also link people with jobs and businesses with customers.

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'Over the next few months public consultations will be held to give drivers, residents and businesses their chance to comment to ensure the best possible improvements are taken forward.'

Former Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plans in December 2014, just months before the General Election of 2015.

All of the A47 plans, which include dualling between Wansford and Sutton, North Tuddenham and Easton, and Blofield and North Burlilngham, as well as improvements to the Guyhirn junction, the A11 Thickthorn junction, A12 junction and Vauxhall roundabout, will begin in March.

Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan said: 'These improvements are made possible by the Government's £15 billion investment in our strategic roads. They are much needed by the half a million drivers who use them every day. Each scheme has been developed by working with local partners and through this consultation we are welcoming views on them. I encourage anyone with an interest in these roads – whether they drive on them, live near them or depend on them for trade – to get involved.'

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