England

Spending Review: A11 dual carriageway plan backed

A plan to transform a stretch of the A11 into a dual carriageway in Norfolk and Suffolk is to go ahead.

Chancellor George Osborne, who made the announcement during his Spending Review speech, said it would "delight" MPs in the East of England.

The £134m project has been mooted for decades and was due to be approved following a public inquiry.

It had come under risk of government cuts because it had not been signed off by the Department for Transport.

Coalition MPs in the affected area called a special meeting last month, urging residents, businesses and councils to lobby the government about the importance of the project.

They argued that Norwich is the biggest city in the UK not linked to the dual carriageway and motorway network.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said the time saved by quicker journeys alone would be worth £1.6bn, not taking into consideration the businesses and jobs the scheme could create.

The project relates to a nine-mile section of road between Thetford in Norfolk and Barton Mills in Suffolk, the only stretch between Norwich and the M11 that is single carriageway.

Norfolk County Council's deputy leader, Ian Mackie, said a wider A11 will provide a "springboard to more investment and ultimately more jobs".

Graham Plant, cabinet member for travel and transport, said: "To receive this news, particularly in the current financial climate, shows just how strong a case we have made for the economic benefits unlocked by dualling."

Economic development partnership Shaping Norfolk's Future (SNF) said the scheme was its "number one priority".

Its chairman Mark Hodges added: "There are clear economic benefits in dualling the A11, and we are delighted that even in these very difficult economic times, the government has given the scheme the green light.

"The scheme will reduce journey times, improve congestion and cut accidents.

"The benefits for the Norfolk economy will be very significant."

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