Leading figures from the world of business and politics joined forces to demand the full dualling of the A47 across the East of England.
Representatives from across the region came together at Westminster on Tuesday to urge the Government to fund further dualling as a priority.
More than 60 people gathered at the A47 parliamentary reception which was hosted by MP Brandon Lewis on behalf of the A47 Alliance.
Michael Ellis, Minister of State for Transport, also attended and heard speeches from regional businesspeople on how the A47 is limiting their success and growth.
Richard Pace from Norwich Airport, Rob Facer from Peterborough-based construction and logistics company Barnack, Peter Brown from Norfolk haulage firm Jack Richards & Sons, Emma Stallion from pharmaceutical company Bespak in King’s Lynn and David Parfrey from Norwich Research Park all spoke of how an improved A47 would allow them to invest with confidence, grow their customer bases and retain skilled workers.
Patrick Peal, chief executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance, also spoke of how often their crews attended traffic accidents on the road and urged the Government to investing in dualling further stretches of the A47 to increase road safety.
In response, Mr Ellis said at the event: “I get it. I get the importance of the A47 in terms of east-west movement and the economic value. I really appreciate you all coming together for this project, it does send a powerful and effective message. I look forward to receiving new information from the A47 Alliance, we’ll be looking very closely at it.”
The minister was presented with a raft of evidence gathered by the A47 Alliance to demonstrate the urgent need for upgrades to this major east-west route.
The Department for Transport is expected to announce this autumn which trunk roads will receive money from its Road Investment Strategy 2 funding pot for improvements to be carried out between 2020 and 2025.
The A47 Alliance is calling on the Government to commit funding to fully dual the A47 by 2030 and specifically to prioritise upgrading the following sections from single to dual carriageway by 2025:
• The Acle Straight in Norfolk
• Tilney to East Winch (including Hardwick flyover) in Norfolk
• Peterborough to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire.
The Peterborough Telegraph has highlighted the dangers of the A47, with police called to a crash on the road from Thorney to Guyhirn on average nearly every five days from the start of May to the end of August last year.
Residents living in the area have also highlighted the traffic nightmare when motorists are diverted through their neighbourhoods as a result of the crashes, while senior politicians including Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer, who attended Tuesday’s event, have also banged the drum for the road to be fully dualled.
Currently, in the Peterborough area, Highways England has only committed to dualling the road between Wansford and Sutton and making improvements at the A141 junction with the A47 in Guyhirn, although works are not due to begin until the 2020/21 financial year.
Martin Wilby, chairman of the A47 Alliance and cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport at Norfolk County Council, speaking after the event, said: “I think we can be really encouraged by today.
“We have an excellent evidence-based case for the great need for these improvements and we’ve demonstrated that the whole region is speaking with one voice by backing the A47 Alliance’s dualling priorities. We’ve done our best, and hopefully in the autumn we’ll get the good news we need.
“But our work won’t be done then. Beyond this autumn’s funding announcement our ultimate aim is the full dualling of the A47. So we will continue to push the Government to commit to dual the road from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft on the east coast all the way through to Peterborough.”
The A47 trunk road, which runs from Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth on the east coast and connects to the A1 at Peterborough, is managed by Highways England on behalf of the Government.
Currently just 47 per cent of the major route is dual carriageway and, while the Department for Transport has committed to making £300 million of improvements to the road, including dualling some stretches, this will still leave substantial sections of the A47 as single carriageway with no current plans to dual them.
Between 2011 and 2015 there were 180 fatal or serious accidents on the A47, while fully dualling the road would provide a huge boost to the regional economy by attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses to become more profitable.