TRANSPORT bosses have come under fire for ignoring the concerns of villagers in proposing a “nonsensical” 37 mile diversion on one of Suffolk’s major roads.

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The Highways Agency is hoping to start over night resurfacing work on the westbound carriageway of the A14 in October between junction 49 at Stowmarket and junction 47 at Woolpit.

As a result it is closing an 18 mile stretch for three weeks, from junction 51 at Needham Market to junction 43 at Bury St Edmunds.

Traffic will be diverted onto the A140 and then across the A143 and back down towards Bury St Edmunds - just over 37 miles.

The move has been strongly criticised by those living in and representing Haughley, Wetherden and Elmswell who fear traffic will ignore the route and simply pass through their villages late at night.

The Highways Agency has also come under fire for failing to attend a meeting to discuss the concerns.

Peter Dow, clerk of Elmswell Parish Council, said: “The diversions are completely nonsensical. When I showed the plans to my councillors a few weeks ago, every single one of them burst out laughing.

“Lorry drivers have satellite navigation systems - they are not going to go three quarters of an hour out of their way when their sat nav is telling them they can just nip through and short cut it. It will bring them within feet of many dwellings.”

Mr Dow also criticised the Highways Agency for its lack of consultation.

“We thought all we would have to do is contact them and point out the problems and they would revert to their usual plan of a contraflow,” he said. “However we have been completely ignored. They didn’t turn up to a meeting and then we were sent a very cursory letter telling us that this is what they were going to do.”

Tony Couzens, clerk to Wetherden Parish Council, said: “People are very concerned. We understand that work has to be done but to expect A14 style traffic to rumble through - at times very close to property - is unreasonable.”

Green county councillor Andrew Stringer, whose division includes Haughley and Wetherden, echoed the comments.

“It’s an outrage,” he said. “Drivers will simply ignore the diversion and go through the villages. People will not be able to sleep at night.

“Personally I’m at a loss as to why the Highways Agency haven’t been able to get round a table and talk about it. No one wants to stop them doing the work that needs to be done but they need to get their thinking caps on and come up with a more appropriate solution.”

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency defended their approach, saying they looked at a number of options, including a contraflow system, but concluded the most efficient and quickest way was to close the carriageway overnight when traffic is at its lowest.

“Using a contraflow would cost significantly more and would require a speed limit in place all day on the affected stretch of road,” she said. “We appreciate the concerns of local people and their elected representatives but believe using a diversion route, which will only be in place between 7pm and 6am, is the right solution.

“Though inevitably longer, this is designed to direct drivers who do not know the area on to the most suitable roads.”

She said the diversion would be re-inforced by an alternative route for heavy vehicles using the A120 and M11.

She added that representatives from the Highways Agency were unable to attend a meeting called by Suffolk County Council earlier this month because of its short notice.

“We remain willing to meet representatives of local authorities to discuss this programme of work,” she said.

7 comments

  • This is very common, setting up huge diversions when there are simpler ones available. I understand the reasons in some situations but often they are nonsensical. I remember going to Exeter and finding the A303 (major route into the West) totally closed (for what was a small amount of resurfacing) and being redirected on about a 40 miles detour; I enquired at a local garage and was told how to take a 3 mile detour. Also, I know that if one of the two Blackwall Tunnels is closed it is no longer allowed to contraflow traffic within one tunnel (Health and Safety!) In this day of high petrol costs and environmental concerns, there really does need to be more thought put into road closures.

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    Johnthebap

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

  • why is it when we have major roadworks to be done here it results in a diversion thats miles out of the normal route which puts lorry drivers stretching there hours even more more fuel cost more miles more pollution yet the french roads are better than ours and iv never been on a 37 mile diversion because of roadworks or anything else to come to think of it

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    john john

    Friday, August 26, 2011

  • I live on the Rat Run route and believe with all the publicty concerning this issue it will result in even more traffic using afforementioned Villages. SleeplessNights4Me ;-(

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    ElmswellFerret

    Friday, August 26, 2011

  • This is a joke story surely. Contraflow is the only way, or are the Highways agency going to pay for the extra fuel that will be used for this absolutely crazy mad diversion. This is terrible for the locals and the environment. I tell you what, use some of my road tax money and the tax I pay for fuel to pay for the contra flow.

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    Martha Farquhar

    Friday, August 26, 2011

  • Amazing! Just when you think these people we have to trust can't get anymore stupid (ie 70m for matrix signs) they pull this out of the hat like some phantom Tommy Cooper. With the price of fuel, can you imagine 'anyone' taking any notice at all of this diversion, let alone lorry drivers?

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    Dean

    Friday, August 26, 2011

  • Mr Robinson, are you aware that undertaking these works using a contra-flow would likely double the cost of the scheme which in these difficult economic times would seem a wasteful use of the tax revenue the government recieve from myself, you and all your readership!

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    Hello Dolly

    Friday, August 26, 2011

  • Whats wrong with a controflow system? they have used that before when re-surfacing the A14. this diversion will allow people mainly lorry drivers to use sat navs to cut cross country which means going through the villages mentioned and trust me anyone that knows Haughley knows if you meet a lorry on the main street your stuffed.

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    suffolkgirl

    Friday, August 26, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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