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A14 is a timebomb for gridlock

Lorry operators have expressed their concern at proposals for a lorry overtaking ban on part of the A14 in Northamptonshire. At a meeting of the Freight Transport Association's East Midlands Freight Council held in Nottingham yesterday (19 October), members complained about the prospective problems. FTA understands that the proposed lorry overtaking ban would be introduced in 2007 between junctions 0 and 1 eastbound near Welford and junctions 1 and 2 westbound near Kelmarsh in Northamptonshire.

Already dubbed by users as 'The road from hell', the A14 has an awful record with daily congestion and FTA says that the only answer to this is to increase capacity. Banning lorries from overtaking is a counterproductive, short-term tool that has many problems associated with its use.

To make the congestion situation worse, the UK is expecting to see a massive growth in imports over the next ten years which will impact on the route. Felixstowe, which is already the UK's largest container port, is expected to absorb a lot of this growth. Some estimates predict 50 per cent more imports at Felixstowe by 2015, which would result in HGV usage on the already gridlocked route increasing by around 150,000 journeys per annum.

FTA's Head of Policy for the Midlands, Stephen Kelly, says, 'This is just another example of the Highways Agency acknowledging lack of capacity on the network. The A14 is a major artery not just for the Midlands but for the whole of the UK, and allowing it to become gridlocked will have a major negative impact on the UK's competitiveness.

'What the Highways Agency seems to forget is that the A14 was built as part of the Trans-European Network, and a principal function is to allow the flow of HGVs from Europe to travel to the Midlands and beyond. It was actually built for lorries, and banning them from overtaking and treating them as second class vehicles is an absolute disgrace. With increased traffic just around the corner, we need to act now and increase capacity before it is simply too late.'

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