Work to provide essential upgrades to the A47 in the East of England has begun.
Last Friday (7 May) saw North East Cambridgeshire MP Stephen Barclay visit the site of improvements at Guyhirn to see how work is progressing on the £14 million roundabout upgrade, which will take around a year to complete.
Highways England is improving the A47 in six places between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth as part of a £450 million investment, with work on the Guyhirn roundabout in Cambridgeshire getting underway in February.
Stephen Barclay MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:
“With over 20,000 vehicles using Guyhirn roundabout each day this investment will make a material difference to resident across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, and comes at the crucial time as we build back better from the Covid pandemic.”
Peter Mumford, Executive Director of Major Projects for Highways England, said:
“Guyhirn is the first of a package of six projects we’re doing on the 115-mile stretch of the A47 between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth. Together, these projects will convert almost eight miles of single carriageway into dual carriageway and will improve key junctions along the A47 road by the end of 2024.
“We’ll be dualling the A47 from North Tuddenham to Easton, and from Blofield to North Burlingham. And we’ll be changing the junctions at Thickthorn and in Great Yarmouth, as well as this one here at Guyhirn. Overall, this is a £450 million-plus investment across the A47 that will relieve congestion and make journey times more reliable for drivers.”
Up to 20 per cent of the 20,000 vehicles that use the roundabout daily are lorries. This improvement scheme will reduce congestion, making journeys safer and smoother for drivers.
Matt Stafford, East Regional Delivery Director for Highways England, added:
“We started work at Guyhirn back in February 2021 and the main construction started in April. Guyhirn is a key junction on the A47 which connects people and businesses in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk through to Kings Lynn and the A1(M).
“This stretch of road connects communities and services in this rural location. Unfortunately, the roundabout currently has high levels of congestion during peak hours, which is because of the lack of lane space and the poor visibility for drivers as they approach the roundabout. Our changes aim to reduce that congestion, improve journey times and increase safety.”
The improvements at Guyhirn will see the roundabout increased to two lanes on all approaches, as well as an extra lane over the River Nene Bridge. There will be two new crossing points for pedestrians, linked by an improved route. Bridge maintenance will be completed at the same time to minimise road closures.
Vegetation clearance has been completed at the roundabout, the trees removed have been chipped and with the new tree planting will be used to facilitate natural habitats on the site. Cut logs were made available for local residents. Cambridgeshire is already benefitting from the scheme’s economic boost, with a Wisbech company taking a leading role in this early construction.
Road layout changes have been completed in these early stages to reduce disruption while roadworks are ongoing. There are a series of closures planned, all overnight, with clearly signed diversion routes in place, to minimise disruption.
This proposal is one of six projects that Highways England is doing to improve the A47. Three sections of the 115-mile stretch of the A47 between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth will be upgraded to dual carriageway. Norfolk sections will be upgraded between Blofield and North Burlingham and from North Tuddenham to Easton, while in Peterborough the A47 between Wansford and Sutton will also be dualled. There will be further junction improvements at the A11 Thickthorn roundabout for Norwich, and at Great Yarmouth junctions.
Preferred options for the dual carriageways were announced in August 2017, with statutory consultations held last year. Now Highways England is submitting its plans to the Planning Inspectorate, with the Tuddenham to Easton proposals submitted last month, and others soon to follow.
The Planning Inspectorate’s examination process will provide people with the opportunity to comment on the proposals in writing as well as the chance to participate in hearings. Following the examination, the Planning Inspectorate will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport, who will decide whether these projects can move forward with construction. If the application is approved, work is due to start in March 2023.
More information about the Development Consent Order process can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website at www.infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/