Friday, 2 May 2014

Study into Norfolk A47 improvements is due to be completed by autumn . . .


Study into Norfolk A47 improvements is due to be completed by autumn

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Traffic queues on the A47 approaching King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop.

A long-awaited study which could pave the way for millions of pounds to be invested to improve the A47 through Norfolk is due to be completed by the autumn.

Campaigners have long demanded improvements to the 105-mile road and those calls have recently intensified following a number of fatal crashes along the route.

While the A47 Alliance - made up of council leaders and representatives - would ideally want investment to dual the whole trunk road, but is proposing targeted investment of £127m in 2014 to 2017, a further £247m by 2021, and £425m in the longer term (after 2021).

They launched an A47 Gateway to Growth prospectus in 2012, outlining how £500m would pay for a string of improvements to the road.

They said that would boost economic output by £390m a year, bring in millions of pounds in private investment, create thousands of new jobs and cut journey times.

The Highways Agency – which is responsible for the road – is currently working on a feasibility study to calculate if upgrading the road would be good value for money. Their study will also consider the A12 between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Today, the Highways Agency and the Department for Transport published its feasibility study scoping document, which revealed the work could be completed by autumn.

The study will be done in three stages. The first will gather evidence and prioritise problems. The second will identify the proposals which could tackle the problems and the third will assess how much it would cost, whether it would offer value for money and how easy it would be to make the changes.

The report says the target is to have all three stages completed by the autumn.

Simon Wright, Norwich South MP, said: “It’s clear that we need to see a series of improvements including road dualling, junction improvements and safety measures along many sections of the A47 from Great Yarmouth to the Midlands.

“We will get the best outcome for the region by taking a whole route approach. This will deliver thousands of new jobs by improving connections to the Midlands and the north.”

The Liberal Democrat MP added: “The case has been strengthened by the welcome approval of the City Deal for Greater Norwich at the end of last year.”

Councillors and MPs in Suffolk hope that, by continuing the A47 to Lowestoft, funding could help meet the costs of a new river crossing in the Suffolk seaside town.

Council bosses also say extending trunk road access from Great Yarmouth to the south shore of Lake Lothing in Lowestoft would help attract even greater benefits for the two towns - from the planned £50bn worth of investment in the southern North Sea over the next 10 years.

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