Problems on roads cost county millions

ACCIDENTS, snarl-ups and congestion on the roads is costing the cash-strapped Suffolk economy around �80million a year, it emerged today.

ACCIDENTS, snarl-ups and congestion on the roads is costing the cash-strapped Suffolk economy around �80million a year, it emerged today.

The shock figure has prompted renewed calls to improve the transport network as the county fights the recession.

The study by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) also predicts the cost to the region - currently �1billion - could double by 2021 unless radical action is taken.

Hauliers estimate the price tag for their business can sometimes reach �1million a day if the A14 is closed.

The dual carriageway has been singled out as one of the main culprits as it regularly plays host to serious accidents and struggles to cope with high numbers of lorries.

Up to 30 per cent of traffic on the A14 is freight - compared to a national average of 10pc - and this figure is expected to increase once the Port of Felixstowe expansion takes effect.

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Steve Cox, executive director of spatial economy at EEDA, said: “Transport investment has to keep pace with the rate of growth.

“The A14 'corridor' experiences significant transport congestion, such as key pinch-points where congestion and accidents create delays and costs for business.”

His calls have fallen short of demanding the dual carriageway be converted into a motorway, instead favouring a more widespread answer involving organisations including the Highways Agency (HA), county councils and central government.

Mr Cox added: “New transport solutions must also be delivered that contribute to economic growth and tackle climate change.

“For example pursuing improvements to the Felixstowe to Nuneaton rail route will allow freight containers to travel by rail as a viable alternative to the A14.”

The Department of Transport has released nearly �90million to the HA towards jam-busting technology on the A14.

This will include work to improve the congestion pinch point at the Orwell Bridge and the junction with the A12.

What do you think is the answer to the congestion question? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk