Call for A14 improvements after crash

Saturday, 14 October, 2006

BUSINESS leaders last night criticised the A14 in Suffolk as 'not fit for purpose' in the wake of a horrific crash which brought gridlock to the road for the second time in a week.
Suffolk Chamber of Commerce chiefs called on the Government to give utmost priority to building an extra lane or even making it a full scale motorway in a bid to stop the chaotic scenes witnessed on the route yesterday, the sixth time the road has been closed in the last year.
Miraculously, no-one was killed when the trucks travelling on the same side of the A14 near Bury struck each other and one was catapulted into the central crash barrier sending a passenger flying from the cab.
But commuters faced tailbacks for miles and many were stranded for hours after the two lorries hit on the east-bound stretch at Rougham at just after 8am, leaving both carriageways completely blocked. The Ipswich-bound section was closed for more than six hours.
More than 70 metres of crash barrier was wrecked when the lorry careered out of control before coming to rest facing the opposite direction.
Firefighters were called to the scene to cut the driver free from the overturned lorry. He was then taken to Bury's West Suffolk Hospital with minor injuries.
It is not believed the passenger thrown from the vehicle or the driver of the other lorry suffered serious injuries.
Commuter Peter Meyhew was caught up in the accident as he travelled to work in Bury. He said: 'The cab was all torn open - it was in a right state, and had gone through a large part of the central reservation. The amount of accidents on that road now is awful.'
John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, blamed poor infrastructure and said congestion as a result was costing the UK economy £15billion a year.
He added: 'It severely damages Britain's business productivity. Chamber research nationally has shown that 48% of businesses had suffered as a consequence.
'From a local perspective Suffolk is a mirror of that, if not a little worse. I would say the road infrastructure here isn't fit for purpose - the A14 and the A12 - particularly during peak rush hour times.
'The chamber will continue to lobby the Government for improvements - to get the A14 and A12 upgraded to three lanes or motorways.'
Chrissie Harrod, President of Bury Chamber of Commerce, said trade and business in Bury was bound to have been hit by the morning logjam.
'Obviously if people are trying to get into work or trying to get in to the town to shop and the roads are closed completely or for any amount of time it will have an effect on trade.'
She believes a new A14 will have to built around the town with additional lanes to help cope with increasing traffic.
The idea has already won support from Bury MP David Ruffley and Ms Harrod says it looks like the only solution as jams inevitably increase as the town grows and the Cattle Market shopping development is completed over the next few years.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said the barrier damaged by yesterday's crash was due to be repaired overnight.
Earlier this year a multi-million pound safety improvement scheme was completed at Rougham's notorious Rookery Crossroads - just a few hundred metres from the scene of yesterday's crash.
The accident happened exactly a week after USAF servicemen Julious Hawkins, 24 was killed in a head-on crash with a van transporter as he drove his car the wrong way along the A14 near the Westley junction.
Police, who set up diversions drawing traffic off the A14 to ease the gridlock, last nigh appealed for witnesses to the accident to call investigators on 01284 774100.

A14 gridlock fact file
October 22, 2005 - Two lorries collided on the westbound carriageway near Newmarket - one driver suffered serious head injuries and the A14 was closed for more than eight hours.
December 30, 2005 - A van and an articulated lorry were involved in a collision near Sproughton - the van driver was pronounced dead at the scene and the road was closed for more than seven hours.
July 24, 2006 - A lorry hit a safety barrier, ploughed through trees and careered down a 40-foot embankment as it came on to the A14 slip road at the Copdock interchange - the eastbound carriageway was closed for eight and a half hours.
July 26, 2006 - A van containing a potentially lethal gas cylinder blew up near tw0 petrol stations straddling the A14 near Newmarket. The road was completely sealed off for almost 24-hours.
September 12, 2006 - A car collided with a crash barrier and overturned on the A14 at Woolpit near Bury St Edmunds - causing hours of tailbacks.