THE dualling of the last single carriageway stretch of the A11 has cleared its final hurdle.
On Monday, the Government announced the results of the two month long planning inquiry and roads minister Mike Penning confirmed the dualling will now go ahead.
Mr Penning said: “Our analysis shows every pound invested in this scheme will deliver more than £17 of benefits - an extremely high rate of return.”
The secretaries of state for transport and for local government have approved the planning inspector’s recommendations that the planned route from Barton Mills’ Fiveways roundabout to Thetford Bypass, with a new bypass round Elveden, be accepted with minor changes.
Changes include an underpass near Elveden war memorial for ‘non-motorised’ users and conservation work to reduce the road’s impact on habitats protected under European legislation, including creating 182 hectares of new habitat for endangered species.
But the inspector found Elveden Estates’ appeal for a B1112 underpass did not justify the extra cost and delaying the scheme. He also felt the effects of suggestions from Barton Mills Parish Council and several individuals to either bypass Fiveways roundabout or bridge the A11 over it “would not make any noticeable difference”.
There were doubts about that at both ends of the planned improvement. Forest Heath District Council leader Geoffrey Jaggard said: “There are problems there now. I expect it will have to be revisited in the future because it is a pinch point. But my aim for years has been to get the dualling done and I welcome it going ahead.”
At Thetford, Breckland Council’s executive member for economic and commercial, Mark Kiddle-Morris, said it would be good to have the traffic separated at Barton Mills but felt nothing should delay the work. “Its absolutely vital for the development of Thetford and beyond.”
An Elveden Estates spokesman said: “We are disappointed the [B1112] junction will not be included and fully anticipate higher congestion at Barton Mills. However, we are delighted that plans for the road are still under way.”
Thetford MP Elizabeth Truss said: “I hugely welcome it. I now want to get on with the next stage which is getting a start date and getting it done.”
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock said: “I look forward to an announcement in the near future about the start of construction. Everyone in East Anglia knows how important this dual carriageway is.”