Priority areas identified for A47 ahead of minister’s crucial
- Credit: IAN BURT
A new Wisbech bypass and improvements at the King's Lynn Hardwick roundabout will be among the priority schemes proposed to transport minister Stephen Hammond when he visits the A47 next week.
The Vauxhall roundabout, near Great Yarmouth, and the A11 junction at Thickthorn were also identified as the 'short-term priority' areas along the 105-mile stretch road through Norfolk.
Members of the A47 Alliance made their decision at a meeting in Peterborough yesterday – based not just on the current traffic problems along various parts of the road, but also its potential cost and whether the schemes would be feasible.
It meant dualling the Acle Straight – described by A47 Alliance chairman David Harrison as key to the whole route – was only listed as a medium-term improvement, while more research was done on the scheme.
Dualling the sections between Easton and North Tuddenham as well as Blofield to Burlingham were also described as medium-term options, while a new bypass at East Winch and Middleton was described as a 'fairly long way off'.
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Whereas short-term priority areas could see building work start in the next few years, longer term projects might not start until 2020 and beyond.
Mike Jackson, Norfolk County Council's director of environment, transport and development, said the list of priorities was 'not about what is more important but, in practical terms, what the delivery is like'.
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He said the 'overarching objective is to dual the road' but that it would take between 10 and 15 years in total, arguing that it made sense to focus on improving the road bit-by-bit.
He added Mr Hammond's visit was a positive sign, with Highways Agency regional manager Alan Kirkdale saying it was 'the start of a process to understand what the concerns are and how they can be taken forward'.
West Norfolk councillor Vivienne Spikings was determined that the Hardwick junction should be at the top of the improvement agenda.
'If we don't get those improvements, our hope for future homes is going to be stifled,' she said. 'We're desperate to get it done, otherwise it's going to hold us back.'
Mr Harrison said the signs of action were 'encouraging' and said the A47 Alliance was a 'powerful voice that must continue to be heard'.
MPs across Norfolk have said they plan to drive with Mr Hammond along the entire road from Great Yarmouth to Peterborough to show him the extent of the problems.