A14 needs more work

Monday, 16 October, 2006

CONTRACTORS on a notorious stretch of the A14 are set to return for repair work - only months after a major improvement scheme was officially opened.
The Rookery Crossroads work near Bury St Edmunds finished in March - six months late and £2million over budget - but specialist assessors were this weekend at the stretch to examine a mysterious slumping in the west-bound stretch of the busy road.
Workmen have discovered subsidence around a drain and the initial study was designed to establish how serious the problem is.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency, said: 'We don't know what has caused the problem but the road is safe to drive on.
'Workmen tried to apply a quick fix on Monday but the problem turned out to be more deep-seated than we first thought.'
He said contractors were expected to be working over both lanes for the next few weekends to minimise disruption to peak time traffic.
The project has been dogged by delay ever since it won funding following an EADT campaign and 18 deaths in six years.
This new work will be paid for by the contractor Carillion and will involve a contra flow system.
The stretch affected is the westbound carriageway between junction 44 and junction 45.
Kelvin Harbutt, a partner in local firm Rougham Hall Nurseries, said: 'This doesn't surprise to me at all. 'I'm still waiting for them to come and finish the road outside the nursery.
'Judging by the way they put cones out this work it will impact business. And if it is prolonged it could be serious - I'm still suffering from the problems caused last time.'
The Highways Agency spokesman assured Mr Harbutt his business would not be affected. He said: 'It will be a short section of contra flow away from the nursery.'
He said it was not yet possible to say how long the work would take.
Local MP David Ruffley, who was critical of the Highways Agency handling of the Rookery Crossroads has said he would closely monitor future projects and in particular the forthcoming safety scheme at the Haughley bends to straighten the dangerous stretch of A14 there.
'The Rookery Crossroads project arrived six months late and £2million over budget and I'm determined to see better management this time,' he said.
'The A14 is Suffolk's major trunk road and a gateway to Europe. It is of the utmost importance that any improvements to it arrive on schedule and on budget.'
At Rougham, up to 35,000 vehicles use the stretch of road every day and the old crossing required drivers to negotiate busy lanes of fast moving traffic around a blind bend.
Now the carriageway has been straightened, slip roads improved and an underpass added to allow cars to bypass the main road.
A dedicated bridleway, one of the first of its kind in East Anglia, has also been built and more than 19,000 trees planted along it.