800 want A14 tamed

SOME 800 people are hoping they have done enough to persuade the Highways Agency on the way to remove the notorious A14 Haughley bends at a cost of up to £20 million.

SOME 800 people are hoping they have done enough to persuade the Highways Agency on the way to remove the notorious A14 Haughley bends at a cost of up to £20 million.

Hundreds of people have lobbied the agency during the public consultation period in to which route to build, to realign the major stretch of road which has been the scene of numerous accidents through the years.

The consultation period closed this week and the agency, which has unveiled two preferred routes, has received comments from Haughley Parish Council for a different route with 100 people attending a public meeting called by councillors.

The agency has revealed that in light of people's opinions it could alter one of the schemes and hopes to accommodate people's concerns.

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: "We've had a great response to the proposals, with almost 800 questionnaires returned. The consultation closed on Monday so we are now studying the responses with a view to announcing a preferred scheme towards the end of the year.

"We will be trying to make sure that the preferred scheme accommodates the needs and concerns that local people have expressed to us during the consultation. It may take the form of one of the proposals we presented, or it could be a variation of one of them.''

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The spokeswoman said the agency has not yet started to analyse the responses in detail and they are unable at this stage to give an indication of whether people are more in favour of one proposal, than another. She said the Highways Agency does not favour one proposal over the other.

The Highways Agency has unveiled two potential schemes to realign the stretch of road at a cost of between £18 million to £20m. The agency has said it wanted to remove the notorious bends and replace existing junctions and accesses with a new two-level junction, and had two preferred routes to achieve this.

One route which does not follow the existing line of the A14 would involve an interchange being built on open land near the Harleston picnic site. The other one which follows the line of the existing A14 and would see the interchange midway between the Quarries Cross junction and Fishponds Way.

The parish council was concerned that its preferred route, where the interchange would be built past the Tot Hill junction and near the turning to Stowmarket, had been dropped. They feared they would be left suffering from light pollution if the interchange and flyover is built nearby.

Mike Pirrie, chairman of Haughley Parish Council, said: "The parish council view remains exactly the same, we want an interchange at Stowmarket. You only build this once, it has got to be right.''

A public inquiry on the scheme could be held in 2005 with work on the route finally selected starting during 2006/7, with the new road opening during 2008.

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