MP rejects calls for A14 motorway status

MP John Gummer has rejected calls for the busy A14 to be upgraded to a motorway – and says more freight must be put on the rails to cure congestion.There is growing safety concerns over the dual carriageway, which is used by nearly 1.

MP John Gummer has rejected calls for the busy A14 to be upgraded to a motorway – and says more freight must be put on the rails to cure congestion.

There is growing safety concerns over the dual carriageway, which is used by nearly 1.5 million lorries a year travelling to and from Felixstowe port and stretches of which are expected to be over-capacity within a decade.

Worries have been voiced too about slow-moving traffic on the road – especially cycles and tractors.

Future port development will add an extra one million lorry journeys a year.

But Mr Gummer said making it a motorway was not the answer and feared that would bring access problems for people in his Suffolk Coastal constituency.

He said: "I think giving it motorway status would disadvantage a great many people who use that road for access locally – I would certainly want to study very carefully any such proposals put forward.

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"If you take the part of the A14 which runs through my constituency it would mean restricting its use and could push a lot of traffic on to country roads, especially those drivers who would be denied access.

"I think the much more important argument is not whether the A14 should become a motorway, but how we can get more lorries off the road and their cargo onto the rail lines.

"Improving the rail network to take more containers could make a huge difference to the amount of freight on the road and could be crucial."

He is supporting the proposals, put forward at the public inquiry into the scheme to redevelop the southern part of Felixstowe port, to dual the rail line between Trimley and Ipswich.

But he would also like a commitment to work elsewhere, especially the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail link, to smooth the passage of freight trains across the national rail network.

He said: "Every effort needs to be made to increase the proportion of freight which goes on to the rail and move it more quickly and conveniently."

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is pressing for the A14 from Felixstowe to the Midlands, a vital link between the UK's major container port and the central motorway network, 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.

FTA general manager for campaigns, Chris Welsh said: "I shudder to think what is the annual cost of congestion on the A14.

"It must run into many, many millions of pounds. That constitutes a dead loss for the UK economy and a waste of time and energy for all drivers, whether car or lorry.

"The UK operates the fourth largest economy in the world. Yet the government seems content to allow this massive daily waste on the road which serves the nation's biggest container port."

n. Do you agree with Mr Gummer? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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