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Fears Acle Straight could miss out on dualling cash, but A11 could become ‘expressway’

PUBLISHED: 07:30 16 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:37 16 December 2017

The Acle Straight near Halvergate. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Acle Straight near Halvergate. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Fears have been raised that the dualling of the Acle Straight could still be years away, after the road seemed to be omitted from thinking over the next major investment in England’s roads.

This map gives an indication of how the network could develop. Green denotes current, planned and potential expressways. Red shows all purpose trunk roads and blue motorways. Pic: Highways England. This map gives an indication of how the network could develop. Green denotes current, planned and potential expressways. Red shows all purpose trunk roads and blue motorways. Pic: Highways England.

While improvements to the A47 were included in a £15.2bn programme of investment from 2015 to 2020, that did not include the notorious Acle Straight or the stretch from Tilney to East Winch.

Norfolk County Council bosses, which made those roads strategic priorities, had hoped they could get money in the next spending programme from 2020 to 2025.

Highways England has just published its initial report on where money could be pumped over that period.

While the A11 and the A47 from Norwich to Dereham are mooted as ‘expressways’. the Acle Straight and the west Norfolk stretch are not flagged up as anything other than standard trunk roads.

The features of an Expressway. Graphic: HIGHWAYS ENGLAND The features of an Expressway. Graphic: HIGHWAYS ENGLAND

And that has sparked concern they could miss out on the next share of money.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: “We would be disappointed if, by indicating that the A47 to Great Yarmouth would not be an expressway, it means the Acle Straight is not recommended for dualling in the next programme.

“We believe there is a good case to bring forward this dualling and hope Highways England and government will agree there is a need to dual this section of road.

“Improvements to the Acle Straight remains a priority for Norfolk County Council, as does the dualling of the road from Tilney to East Winch.

“We still firmly believe there is a good case to dual both sections of the road and will continue to push for this through the A47 Alliance to get it planned in as a project for 2020 to 2025.”

Highways England stressed the plan was a vision, rather than a firm commitment and that planning of road upgrades will be done through the usual process.

A Highways England spokeswoman said: “The expressways concept and map proposed outlines Highways England’s vision for the future and is subject to a consultation led by the Department for Transport.

“Once the consultation on the initial report has been completed and conclusions are known, we will be able to assess the implications for the A47 and A11.

“We will continue to engage with our stakeholders and keep people informed throughout the process.”

What is an expressway?

An expressway is to be a new classification of road between a motorway and a traditional dual carriageway to show a route that would flow faster than at present.

There would be no slow-moving agricultural machines allowed to use them.

Junctions would be improved to allow traffic to join and leave the road at the speed of the prevailing traffic.

There would be extra emergency spaces at the side for vehicles to pull off – but roads would remain two-lane, rather than three, for most of their length.

And their roadsigns would be painted blue like motorways, rather than green, as A routes have at present.

But the concept of expressways has come in for criticism.

The Campaign For Better Transport fears they could lead to the cutting off of junctions with minor local roads and that investment in more integrated public transport would be better.

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