Video and Graphic: Dawn of a new era as revamped A11 is opened
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013
Click here to view the graphicA new era has been hailed as Elveden returned to being 'one village' and the benefits of the end to the notorious A11 bottleneck were spelled out.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin officially declared the new and upgraded £105m nine-mile stretch of the A11 open, joined by MPs and councillors across the political spectrum, highways bosses and business leaders who have long campaigned for the investment.
Lord Iveagh, who owns the Elveden Estate, which was divided by the former artery into Norfolk, hailed a new era, adding: 'It is a fantastic thing. It is great for everyone.'
He said the increasingly busy road had split the estate and workers had negotiated thousands of tractor movements across the busy route.
He added: 'We have got our village back as one. We have older people and younger people for whom it was a risk to life and limb. Cross the road to the village shop, the post office – it couldn't be done.
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'It was easier to get in a car and drive to somewhere relatively far away as you could not get a gap in the traffic.
'We had people killed in the village – dear people killed – the air ambulance turning up on a regular basis and sorting out the worst crashes. There was a desperate loss of human life. Very often, the first responders were from the estate community. They happened to live on or beside the road. The social impact has been immense in a damaging way.'
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Mr McLoughlin, who unveiled a plaque which will be mounted near the new underpass at the war memorial, said the new road would not just benefit motorists, but create jobs and opportunities across the East of England.
'I think this is incredibly important for the region. This has been promised for 40 or 50 years and I am delighted it has been delivered by this government.'
He told people gathered at the ceremony, which was moved from the bridge over the road to the Elveden Inn because of the bad weather, that he had memories of being held up on the A11 as his sister had worked at a hospital in Norwich 35 years ago.
'There was nothing more frustrating than being stuck on the A11, stuck behind some agricultural vehicle. Farming is a very important part of the economy – but it can be frustrating when you can't get about as you want to. Making sure you have some good key arteries that serve the area is vitally important.'
But Lord Iveagh voiced concerns about the danger to drivers from deer. He said that despite culling hundreds each year, there was a significant population. 'There will be casualties. I think at this stage we will have to see how it goes. We will have to assess the need with the new road and how we respond as motorists. That is how we should leave it. We don't need the knee jerk. I know that with such a big population, of course there will be accidents.'
But Geoff Chatfield, project manager for the Highways Agency, said they were creating deer visibility zones: 'If there are any deer in the area, there will be visibility between the deer and the cars.
'It is very difficult to control deer and avoid accidents. One of the ways we can do that is to ensure there is visibility.'
What do you think of the A11? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk