Five year delay on A47 construction is not good enough, say MPs
PUBLISHED: 08:01 22 June 2015 | UPDATED: 08:01 22 June 2015
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2014
A five year delay until diggers are in the ground on the A47 is not good enough, MPs in the region have said.
The alliance to improve the A47 has been told construction on some of the upgrade, which includes making three more sections of road into a dual carriageway, may not start for 60 months with delays expected while land is acquired and plans drawn up.
At a meeting this week between the A47 Alliance and Highways England - the new body which will be responsible for building roads - will be told the timeline is too long and faster action is needed.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous has coordinated a letter, co-signed by Conservative MPs along the route, to the A47 Alliance saying the work which is needed to address congestion and accident blackspots needed to be completed “as soon as practically possible”.
They warn that any delay could prejudice a future bid for funding to see the whole of the route become a dual carriageway.
They said that while consultants had been appointed to design and deliver the route that a period of five years before any building work takes place was “unambitious and is not in the best interests of those communities and businesses that both you and your fellow councillors and ourselves represent.”
Cash was approved in the Autumn Statement last year and the A47 upgrade was a key part of the Conservative manifesto at the election. Under the current timeline work might not begin before the next General Election, which would be May 2020 under the laws for fixed term parliaments.
In their letter MPs have urged the A47 Alliance chairman Roger Foulger to speed up the process. Mr Foulger said they were going to push Highways bosses for more action on the route.
“Clearly one of the items on the agenda is the timeline. Now we have had the funding for Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, we want to see an earlier start on it. “What we are looking at is an earlier start on is for example the Burlingham to Blofield stretch. IT was approved way back in the 1990s and wasn’t proceeded. Now funding is available we want to see an earlier start day. Because the preliminary work we did at the time.
“The message we got in the Autumn Statement was here his the money, now get on with it. But basically it is the procedures which the Highways Agency say they have to go through, such a land acquisition and all the rest of it, takes a really lengthy period of time. What I, and other members of the alliance, want to see is this period of time come down and an earlier start made.”
“The A11 was on the wish list for a long time. Once they got the diggers on the site they got it done and that is what we want to see happen on the A47,” he added.
A DfT spokesperson said: “The Department announced a package of A47 improvements worth over £300 million in December 2014. Highways England will be working with stakeholders including the council to deliver the schemes as quickly as possible.”