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West Norfolk councillor urges counties to work together on A17 bridge idea

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A West Norfolk councillor has called for two county authorities to work together on major road improvements after a new £100 million bridge was mooted.

County council leaders in Norfolk have backed their Lincolnshire counterparts on the idea of replacing the current Cross Keys crossing on the A17 at Sutton Bridge.

They also say they are looking at options for upgrading the junction where the route joins the A47 at Lynn.

The Cross Keys Bridge (49013289)
The Cross Keys Bridge (49013289)

But borough councillor Sandra Squire believes the proposal should be the basis for wider improvements on both sides of the county border, particularly in the context of the Government's levelling up agenda.

She said: "Let’s face it, the A17 isn’t fit for purpose at all.

"It’s one of the main routes into and past King’s Lynn, there are multiple accidents on it every year.

Councillor Sandra Squire (45616341)
Councillor Sandra Squire (45616341)

"It would make sense for Lincs to work with NCC (Norfolk County Council) and submit a major projects bid to Government for funding to upgrade and dual it with a bigger and better bridge."

Earlier this month, Lincolnshire County Council leaders said it was time to start thinking about whether to replace the Cross Keys bridge, which dates back to 1897, amid concerns over how much longer it can withstand current traffic.

The proposal came as the authority agreed a £1.5 million repainting programme, which is likely to cause several months of traffic delays next year.

The idea has been questioned by councillors in Sutton Bridge, who say the existing swing bridge would still need to be maintained.

But Mrs Squire, whose Terrington ward includes the border village of Walpole Cross Keys, says the current structure does pose problems.

"The bridge, while historical and I quite like it, is a bottleneck for traffic and it would make sense to replace it for something bigger.

"But if you’re going to do that, it’s got to be in context of upgrading the whole road. Traffic is always backed right up past Walpole Cross Keys towards Terrington while the bridge is closed.

"Maybe they could build another and still use the old one for one of the carriageways of a dual carriageway?"

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for transport, said: “We are aware of this project and we support neighbouring authorities’ aspirations to deliver enhancements to all strategic routes into Norfolk to improve journey time reliability, ease congestion and deal with any related air quality issues.

“The importance of the A17 is acknowledged as a key gateway and we’re currently looking at options which could see much needed improvements made to the A17/A47 Pullover junction.”

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