Make our roads safer
FRESH pleas were made today to get slow-moving vehicles off the busy A14 and A12 – amid fears of more crashes and chaos causing gridlock.A senior county councillor gave her backing to The Evening Star's campaign to highlight the danger on Suffolk's two main roads, stretches of which are rapidly heading towards capacity.
FRESH pleas were made today to get slow-moving vehicles off the busy A14 and A12 - amid fears of more crashes and chaos causing gridlock.
A senior county councillor gave her backing to The Evening Star's campaign to highlight the danger on Suffolk's two main roads, stretches of which are rapidly heading towards capacity.
The call from Kathy Pollard followed the chaos last week when accidents around the edge of Ipswich - one of them involving a tractor - brought the area to a standstill.
This was followed at the weekend by a crash on the A12 in which two people were killed, and another accident on the A14 at the Trimley interchange when a lorry overturned on an embankment.
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Mrs Pollard, an executive member of Suffolk County Council, wants restrictions on slow motorised vehicles on the A14 and A12 south of Ipswich.
She represents the area which includes the section of A14 between Wherstead and the Copdock Mill roundabout, where last week's accidents happened.
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"Thank heavens in this case no-one was seriously injured, but slow moving vehicles like tractors and diggers are a real hazard to themselves and others when these roads are at their busiest," she said.
"Also tractors pulling large trailers look like lorries from a distance, but they are moving very much slower and sometimes the warning flashing lights are obscured by the loads on the trailers."
She will be asking highways chiefs to think seriously about restrictions on these two busy trunk roads.
"The A14 and A12 south of Ipswich are effectively motorways in all but name, and tractors are certainly not allowed on motorways," said Mrs Pollard.
There has been growing concern about tractors and also cycles using the dual carriageways and the impact finding slow-moving vehicles ahead has on drivers' reactions and manoeuvres.
The Freight Transport Association has also called for the A14 from Felixstowe to the Midlands to be improved to motorway standard as soon as possible.
It said the road was "constantly congested, has a poor safety record, and fails to serve the interests of either car drivers or lorry operators".
Some 52,000 vehicles a day - 20 per cent of them lorries - use the A14-A12 road between the Copdock interchange and Seven Hills at Nacton and the number is growing every day.
In the next 15 years, there will be one million more trucks using the route as Felixstowe port grows, but even without this extra traffic highways experts say the increase in car usage will mean capacity will be reached.
They expect between 2008 and 2012 that congestion and queuing will become frequent at peak times, especially on and near sliproads, the main junctions and at the Orwell Bridge.
Chris Shaw, development control manager for the Highways Agency for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, said they are looking at the futures of the A14 and A12.
"We have to look at the whole situation and try to calculate what might happen in the future and our calculations show that by 2013 the A14 between the A12 turn off at Nacton and Copdock will reach capacity level," he said.
"Ways need to be found to try to address that situation and spread those journeys so that the road can still cope.
"The answer is not widening the A14 or building another Orwell Bridge - I don't think funding would be available for that, and it would be out of scale with the development taking place.
"Widening a road like the A14 to three lanes would bring environmental concerns, land purchase and other issues, and the remit of the Highways Agency is to operate the network to get as much out of the capacity of the road space as best as possible."
What do think should be done to stop the problems on the A12 and A14/ Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk