Road holding county back

SUFFOLK'S economy is being held back and lives are being put at risk by the state of the A14, business leaders warned today.After a spate of serious accidents and repeated calls for investment to reduce traffic snarls, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce today urged the government to take immediate action.

SUFFOLK'S economy is being held back and lives are being put at risk by the state of the A14, business leaders warned today.

After a spate of serious accidents and repeated calls for investment to reduce traffic snarls, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce today urged the government to take immediate action.

It blamed the problems for holding back business development, costing jobs and investment, and making life harder for commuters.

The chamber's chief executive Bob Feltwell said: "Road infrastructure is one of the things that is holding back the Suffolk economy.


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"The A14 is an ongoing problem which is going to get worse.

"There's too much time wasted travelling to and from meetings at the best of times and when you can't even guarantee getting from A to B it imposes extra constraints on business people."

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The Highways Agency countered those claims by stressing that major safety improvement works were already being carried out on the A14 and more were planned.

The Evening Star has been calling for improvements to be made on the route in its Danger on the A14 campaign.

And today it declared the road was "a route of national importance" and said a £32million scheme on the A14 at Haughley Bends in Suffolk is expected to start construction in 2007 while a £10million scheme to improve the A14 Rookery Crossroads is already under construction.

A spokeswoman for the Agency said both schemes would cut accidents and improve safety.

She added: "Safety improvements have also been carried out at Whitehouse and Clayton junctions near Ipswich, as well as queues ahead signing at Copdock Interchange (A12/A14)."

Improvements to the Cambridgeshire section of the A14 are expected to begin construction in 2008.

The calls from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce coincided with comments from Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Bridge, who blamed the government for "carnage" on the A14.

His comments followed the death of cyclist Alexei Stepanov on Monday, who died after his bicycle collided with a lorry close to the Oakington turn-off on the A14 in Cambridgeshire.

"The latest death crash on the A14, in which a cyclist died, is just the latest in a long line," Mr Bridge said.

"The Government and the Highways Agency have blood on their hands for failing to do something about it - and they will have more blood on their hands in the future unless they actually do something about the A14."

In Suffolk, business leaders say improvements need to be made at the approach to the port of Felixstowe, where there are high numbers of heavy goods vehicles, and at the Copdock A12/A14 intersection.

Mr Feltwell also called for restrictions keeping heaving goods vehicles out of the outside lane.

"Right the way through the A14, which is our only route to the Midlands, we could do with an interim step of heavy vehicles confined to the inside lane," he said.

"At least it allows business people in cars to move along and get better use of the space."

What do you think about the A14? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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