'Not fit for purpose' - fresh campaign to get A47 fully dualled
- Credit: Denise Bradley
The A47 is "not fit for purpose", leading councillors have said, as they launch a new campaign to get the government to pump millions into fully dualling one of Norfolk's key roads.
Norfolk County Council's Conservative controlled cabinet agreed on Monday to reignite the campaign to get the road fully dualled, amid frustration at the slow pace of work in getting existing improvement schemes done.
Martin Wilby, the county council's cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, said: "We know that the road has not received significant investment in the past to bring it up to a standard, meaning that it is currently unfit for purpose."
While £300m of improvements, including changes to Thickthorn roundabout on the edge of Norwich and dualling of sections between North Tuddenham and Easton, plus Blofield to North Burlingham, were agreed in 2014, work has yet to start.
And, when the government announced more money for road schemes between 2020 and 2025, Norfolk missed out, to the disappointment of council leaders.
Mr Wilby told the cabinet meeting a new campaign was being launched to secure commitments to the A47 in the government's spending review - due in October.
He said businesses were recently asked what a fully-dualled A47 could do for them.
He said 95pc said it would reduce inefficiencies and delays travelling, 90pc said it would attract more customers and 88pc said it would allow them to invest with confidence.
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He said: "We are keen that government commits to further investment so that we fulfil our aspiration for full dualling, with appropriate grade separation, all along the road."
Mr Wilby said the three priorities of the A47 Alliance, of which the county council is a member, includes the dualling of the Acle Straight, dualling Tilney to East Winch and Wisbech to Peterborough.
He said that would unlock 125,000 houses and 75,000 jobs, create more than £330m uplift from new employment and £200m of benefits from enhanced productivity.
And Graham Plant, deputy leader of the county council, hit out at the amount of time it has taken National Highways (previously known as Highways England) to start work on the already funded changes.
There is real frustration at County Hall about what they see as slow progress on getting the £300m of A47 improvements announced in 2014 done.
They say Norfolk has suffered from underinvestment in roads by successive governments and, even when money is announced, it takes too long for schemes to get off the ground.
Council leaders hope that, with chancellor Rishi Sunak due to give an autumn spending review on budgets for government department, money will be found for the A47 in Norfolk.
While full dualling is the long-term aim, they would be thrilled if the long-sought dualling of the Acle Straight won support, along with dualling of sections from Tilney to East Winch and Wisbech to Peterborough.