End in sight for Haughley bends

BUSINESS leaders today hailed a £32million programme of A14 improvements that could signal a major boost to the region's economy.The major scheme, for the Haughley Bends near Stowmarket, is designed to reduce accidents and improve safety on the notorious stretch of road.

BUSINESS leaders today hailed a £32million programme of A14 improvements that could signal a major boost to the region's economy.

The major scheme, for the Haughley Bends near Stowmarket, is designed to reduce accidents and improve safety on the notorious stretch of road.

It will include building a new 2.5-mile stretch of dual carriageway and a two-level junction between Fishponds Way and Stowmarket.

The new junction, which will be situated closer to Stowmarket, will separate through traffic on the A14 from local traffic.

The move is likely to cut journey times between the Midlands and Suffolk, opening up new opportunities for the trade in the county.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "Anything that makes journeys easier and quicker is to be welcomed and this would open up the area for new tourism and business."

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He added the expansion of Felixstowe Port and the possible development of Great Blakenham's Snoasis proposal make the improvements even more vital.

Announcing the scheme yesterday, roads minister David Jamieson said: "This section of the A14 through Suffolk has a poor accident record. This much-needed scheme would improve safety for residents of Haughley and drivers using the A14 dual carriageway."

The announcement follows a period of public consultation and will see the new dual carriageway built to the south of the existing A14.

The scheme will also include a new overbridge at Quarries Cross picnic area, extensive landscaping and mounding to reduce the environmental impact of the scheme and improved cycling facilities.

Currently, the stretch of the A14 covering the bends is covered by a 50mph speed limit with fixed speed cameras – a move introduced in 2000 to tackle the area's accident record.

Jeffrey Bowden, chairman of Haughley Parish Council, said: "This is good news for the people of Haughley and good news for the 30,000 drivers who use the A14 every day.

"It takes the road further away from Haughley and benefits us without disadvantaging anyone else."

John Prigg, a Haughley parish councillor, added: "This is the ideal scheme for the Haughley bends – there is not a negative aspect to it

"The only drawback is the work will probably not be starting for another five years. It can't come quickly enough."

The next stage will see tender documents for the scheme prepared and draft orders are due to be published towards the end of next year.

n Plans for the scheme can be seen at Haughley Post Office and Stowmarket Town Council's offices in Milton Road South, Stowmarket.

Will the improvements save lives? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or join the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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