Artful Codger, by Roger May, March 20, 2015

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While much attention locally has been concentrated on improving the A47 road through our region, there is surely a compelling case for upgrades to the A17, which is a real Cinderella.

Accidents on the road in recent times have led to renewed calls for it to be made into a dual carriageway, but given the fact that similar pleas down the years have fallen on deaf ears, it appears a forlorn hope.

At least the campaign for improvements to the A47 have led to pledges for parts of the road to receive further dualling, even if it will be happening in areas of Norfolk that are not in our locality.

Unfortunately for the A17, it has the misfortune for large parts of its route to the A1 at Newark to be located within Lincolnshire, which has an abysmal record on road building – at least in the southern part of the county.

While we moan about the poor roads and lack of progress in building new ones in Norfolk, our county’s infrastructure seems light years ahead of the transport network across the border in Lincolnshire, which appears to have barely changed since I was a lad in the 1950s.

In my lifetime, we have at least had a new, dual carriageway bridge built over the Ouse, and bypasses to the east and north of the town.

By contrast, the bridge at Sutton Bridge is still a Victorian relic that, despite the admirable service it has given over the years, might be more appropriate as a living museum piece, rather than a part of 21st century infrastructure.

The only “improvement” to it in my 69 years has been the removal of the railtrack to enable a two-way flow of road vehicles.

Admittedly the need for a replacement to this swing bridge would need to take into account the flow of shipping traffic into the port of Wisbech further up the Nene, but surely a high level bridge would not have to be particularly high, given that most of the vessels coming into the Wash ports sit relatively low in the water.

However, as bad as the A17 is in West Norfolk (and remember this section was only built in the 1980s) there are even worse stretches across Lincolnshire, where it is pretty much impossible to overtake the convoys of lorries that are now the norm, day or night.

The situation is made even more worrying because there are other much-needed projects in South Lincolnshire that may need attention before the A17 is tackled.

While Lynn, Wisbech, Downham and Swaffham were bypassed, our neighbours in Boston still endure summer holiday traffic from the East Midlands, heading for Skegness, It’s unbelievably really, and does not bode well for the A17.