The Artful Codger, December 12, 2014: West Norfolk didn’t miss much on A47 cash

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While the disappointment lingers on that West Norfolk has once again been completely ignored over the thorny issue of funding for improvements to the A47, the harsh reality is that we did not miss out on much at all.

The much-trumpeted £15 billion for road infrastructure across the country sounds like a lot of money, but in reality it is an absolute pittance when compared with the scale of the transport problems everywhere.

I have friends who, in the course of their everyday jobs, are forced to travel around the country on a daily basis, and they are constantly complaining about the hold-ups all over the place, and the frustration of regularly being late for appointments.

The money that has been allocated for A47 improvements is not much more than a sticking plaster on a festering wound that is getting worse by the day.

The three sections of the A47 that will be getting cash for improvements are comparatively straightforward to sort out, and therefore will not cost too much, compared with some of the more awkward bottlenecks.

The section from Sutton, just beyond Peterborough, to the A1at Wansford, is hardly of the highest priority – but it is a relatively straight piece of road that can easily be dualled, using existing carriageway. Traffic from West Norfolk, once it reaches the outskirts of Peterborough, can already access the A1 on the urban dual carriageway round the south of the city.

This money would have been far better put towards sorting out the dreadful stretch of road from Guyhirn to Wisbech, completely replacing the old road along the top of the riverbank with a fresh dual carriageway across the Fens. This would have helped ease one of the worst bottlenecks, but, of course, would have cost rather more than the Sutton-Wansford sticky plaster.

The problems at Guyhirn have been acknowledged by the provision of money to improve the roundabout there, but, again, it is hard to see how it will do any long term good. In fact the problems at Guyhirn were apparent more than 20 years ago, when the current bridge was built there, and pleas from local businesses, including Associated British Ports at Lynn, for a dual carriageway bridge were ignored.

The only slight benefit to West Norfolk from the new roads cash will be a marginal improvement to journey times to Norwich, once the small section of road between the Dereham and Norwich bypasses is dualled. Commuters from Dereham to Norwich will also appreciate this upgrade.

I would imagine that in 20 years time, some other grumpy old Lynn News columnist will still be banging on about this issue. Not a happy thought.