'Vital' Suffolk road upgrades outlined by county council for economic recovery post-Covid
- Credit: Archant
Investment in Suffolk's roads will be vital for the county's economic recovery post-Covid, council leaders have said.
A motion put forward at Suffolk County Council's full council meeting on Thursday afternoon reaffirmed the commitment to, and lobbying for funding, for key road schemes - particularly around the A14 and A12.
Among those will be vital upgrades to the A12 and A14 junction at Copdock, and the A11 Fiveways junction in Mildenhall, both of which are in the pipeline for the government's Regional Investment Strategy (RIS) programme.
Other key areas raised include the A12 sliproads between Ipswich and the Suffolk/Essex border and A14 junctions 37 (Exning), 43 and 44 (Bury St Edmunds) and junctions 56-58 around Ipswich.
Suffolk County Council's Conservative leader Matthew Hicks said: "We have delivered significant road schemes such as the eastern Relief Road in Bury St Edmunds, the Beccles Southern Relief Road and the work at the Eye Airfield on the A140, just to name a few.
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"Alongside this we have committed to promote sustainable transport and improve rail connectivity. However, we must not stand still, we have a lot more to do.
"It's vital we see movement and progress at Copdock and Fiveways in Mildenhall in the next RIS period.
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"We must continue to make sure everyone recognises the importance of the A14 as Britain's premier trading route.
"As users we know only too well upgrades are needed at junction 37 at Exning, junctions 43 and 44 at Bury St Edmunds and 56-58 around Ipswich.
"We must keep up the pressure and delivery of much talked about future schemes, as these are vital as we see future growth in our county."
Cabinet member for economic growth, Nick Gowrley added that "poorly connected areas have poorly performing economies", which made the road upgrades vital - particularly with the additional movements expected with the Freeport East designation at the ports in Felixstowe and Harwich.
The Copdock and Fiveways projects are listed in Highways England's future plans, and could see work starting between 2025 and 2030.
However, question marks have been raised from the council's Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group.
Andrew Stringer said: "My constituents would rather we repair the existing worn out sections of the A14 ahead of increasing capacity elsewhere."
Green councillor Robert Lindsay added: "All new road projects do is generate new traffic, and simply creating EV charging points is not enough. It's important to reduce car journeys, that's what we need to do - it's acknowledged but never done in policy by this administration."
Sarah Adams from the Labour group said that there had been "an expensive record of failure" on highways schemes like the Upper Orwell Crossings, and added that "a few new roundabouts doesn't compensate for the millions of pounds of taxpayer money that they [the administration] wasted on white elephants".
The motion to reaffirm commitments to the Department for Transport, Highways England and the government, was approved by 60 votes to 1, with eight councillors abstaining.