Revealed: How the A47 will be changed through £300m improvements
- Credit: Highways England
The plans for the long-awaited £300m upgrade of the A47 are today revealed, with preferred routes announced for the sections of the road to be dualled.
Highways England, which has been consulting over the details of the project, also confirmed improvements for junctions and roundabouts, including Thickthorn roundabout, on the edge of Norwich, and two roundabouts in Great Yarmouth.
Business and council leaders have welcomed the news, but called on people in Norfolk to help keep up the momentum for the work to be done soon as feasible - and for further investment.
The two Norfolk sections earmarked for dualling are between North Tuddenham and Easton and between Blofield and North Burlingham.
People were invited to pick between a series of options and decisions have now been made.
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It means that, between North Tuddenham and Easton, the A47 will be upgraded along its existing route, rather than options which could have seen a new carriageway to the north or south of the current road.
For the Blofield to North Burlingham dualling, the option picked will see a new stretch of dual carriageway built a little to the south of the existing A47.
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There was only one option for Thickthorn roundabout, which highways bosses say will alleviate congestion through a direct link from the A11 northbound to the A47 eastbound, and from the A47 westbound to the A11 southbound.
In Great Yarmouth, the Vauxhall roundabout will be enlarged, with improvements to the Gapton roundabout. In Cambridgeshire, the A47 will be dualled from Wansford to Sutton,
Philip Davie, Highways England programme leader for the A47, said: 'We have listened to the public's views and these have helped shape and inform our approach to our proposed schemes.
'Work now continues, adding detail to the design for each of the dualling and junction improvements, and on planning how we will deliver them in a way that keeps traffic moving.'
The £300m investment was announced in the run up to the 2015 general election, but consultation has been taking place over the precise routes.
Work on the projects could begin as early as March 2020, with completion dates starting from March 2021.
Today's announcement has been welcomed, but county leaders say the momentum must be kept up.
Martin Wilby, chairman of Norfolk County Council's environment, development and transport committee and chairman of the A47 Alliance, said: 'There is some momentum now on the £300m of improvements which Highways England is committed to making.
'Our job - and for this we need the help of people in Norfolk - is to make sure this momentum doesn't falter.
'The government will shortly be considering and agreeing further investment in its trunk road network and we are making the strongest possible case to get further A47 improvements funded in this.
'We need everyone in Norfolk who wants a better A47 to keep helping us bang the drum to Highways England and the government.
'Let's leave them in no doubt about how vital this is to our county.'
And Nova Fairbank, public affairs manager for Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: 'We welcome the announcement of the preferred route options, as the next steps towards delivering the long awaited improvements along the A47.
'The A47 is a main route across Norfolk and is very important to the local economy, so we are keen to see these improvements delivered at the earliest opportunity.
'However, there is still a significant way to go to bring one of Norfolk's main routes up to standard, even with the current planned improvement schemes.
'Norfolk Chamber and its members will be working in partnership with the A47 Alliance, to call on Westminster to provide funding for further improvements, such as the dualling of the Acle Straight and the dualling of the section between Tilney and East Winch, both of which will help businesses to deliver greater economic growth and jobs in our region.'
Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'We welcome investment in the A47 - one of our area's key road routes. These improvements will make a real difference.
'Improving our area's connectivity and transport links is key to unlocking more of our economic potential and continuing the make the East a location of choice to live, work and learn.
'Looking ahead, we will also continue to work closely with partners to identify opportunities for funding for future rounds of works.'