A11 dualling brought forward to 2010

A fully dualled Norwich to London trunk road finally became a reality today as it was announced that work on the A11 has been brought forward to Autumn 2010.

A fully dualled Norwich to London trunk road finally became a reality today as it was announced that work on the A11 has been brought forward to Autumn 2010.

The region was given a major boost after Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon confirmed that crucial improvement work to dual the last remaining single carriageway stretch of the road between Fiveways roundabout and Thetford would start 18 months earlier than expected.

Norfolk County Council launched its Dual the A11 campaign during the summer and more than 15,000 people signed a petition to accelerate dualling the road which the East of England Development Agency (Eeda) says would net a staggering £600m to the region's economy.

County council leader Daniel Cox, supported by South West Norfolk MP Christopher Fraser and West Suffolk MP Richard Spring, will tomorrow hand in three box loads of petition forms at Mr Hoon's London offices along with a letter of thanks to Mr Hoon welcoming today's decision.

Following discussions with local MPs, councils and the regional assembly, Mr Hoon confirmed that the £127m scheme can be brought forward from 2012/13, subject to consideration of any objections and the outcome of statutory processes.

This would enable the scheme, which will allow Norfolk and Suffolk residents and commuters to benefit from better, more reliable and safer journeys, to open to traffic in early 2013, 18 months ahead of the previous timetable.

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Mr Hoon said: “The government is committed to bringing forward infrastructure investment wherever possible, so I am pleased to confirm that today I have asked the Highways Agency to work towards delivering this much needed scheme to dual the last single carriageway stretch of the A11 at the earliest opportunity - subject to the outcome of statutory planning and order making processes. “The region has confirmed improvement work to this heavily used road which connects the East of England with London and the Midlands via the motorway network is a top priority which will bring increased capacity, improved journey times and safety, and provide a big boost to the region's economy.

“Bringing start of works forward to Autumn 2010 would mean road users would benefit from the improvements around 18 months earlier than originally planned. It will also provide better value for money, costing around £8 million less than it would to start work in 2012/13. This scheme confirms the government's commitment to delivering transport improvements to the East of England.”

Barbara Follett, regional minister for the East of England, said: “Today's announcement of a planned earlier start on an upgrade to the A11 is great news for the East of England and will boost the economy during these difficult times.

“This is the government's commitment to support key infrastructure projects despite the downturn in the economy in action and is, I believe, the result of effective partnership working locally, regionally and nationally.

“As chair of the East of England Regional Economic Forum I will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that we can help support the region's economy.”

Roger Hawkins, project manager for the Highways Agency, said: “Completing the dualling of the A11 between the M11 and Norwich will significantly contribute to improving journey time reliability and ease congestion. The scheme includes a bypass that will take traffic away from Elveden, bringing substantial benefits to the village which has conservation area status.”

The scheme will see the dualling of nine miles of single carriageway road between Fiveways roundabout at Barton Mills near Mildenhall, and the roundabout at the southern end of the Thetford bypass. The improvement would be largely on-line except at Elveden, where a bypass would be provided.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said today: “This a very notable success for Norfolk and follows months of concerted pressure, both in public and behind the scenes, from the county council, Norfolk MPs and the business community. I am absolutely delighted with the news because of the very positive benefits this will bring to the Norfolk economy.

“We have known for some time that we had been successful in getting our voice heard at the highest level of government and I firmly believe this proves great things can be achieved when bodies pull together in the same direction for the good of the County. Achieving a 2010 start date was always an ambitious target, but I am highly ambitious for Norfolk - and thrilled to have hit the target in such style.

“It's important to acknowledge that credit is due both to Mr Hoon and his predecessor Ruth Kelly for hearing what's been said by 16,000 people and acting upon it.

“Although this is a great day for Norfolk and a tremendous achievement, I can promise we will be following the progress of the scheme closely and will continue to be vigilant until the day the road is finally built and open to traffic.”