Roadworks on A47 at Postwick near Norwich - Is this the start of 18 months of traffic hell?
PUBLISHED: 12:13 17 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:13 17 May 2014
Motorists fear they could be facing 18 months of traffic hell, just days into work starting on improvements to the Postwick junction on the A47 near Norwich.
Work to create what is known as the Postwick Hub - the junction to the east of Norwich where the A47 meets Yarmouth Road - started earlier this week, and already drivers are spitting feathers about the delays it’s causing.
Throughout the work, the eastbound carriageway of the A47 will be shut at Postwick, with a 50mph speed limit.
Norfolk County Council says the junction changes - which will see new roundabouts, roads and a bridge - are essential to cope with extra traffic in the future.
And they say that thousands of jobs, houses and a lasting boost to the local economy will all flow from the £19m improvement of the Postwick junction.
But for objectors, it is an over-engineered project designed chiefly to act as the stepping-off point to a scheme detractors have dubbed the road to nowhere.
And drivers have already taken to social media sites to complain about the traffic hold-ups.
One motorist, from Lingwood, who did not wish to be named, said: “Can we really be facing at least another year of this?
“My journey home took more than three times as long as it normally does, and I spent the waiting time trying to decide on the alternative route for the next day.
“Think I will just have to try various options. I foresee the next year’s travelling as a bit of a nightmare.”
Another motorist added: “Took me ages to get home last night, too. Walking pace eastbound from Trowse to Postwick. Everyone will be travelling via Yarmouth Road through Thorpe... Going to be a nightmare that way, too, and rough for people living in Thorpe.”
Other drivers have also complained about long queues with many suggesting alternate routes through the back roads into Thorpe to miss the junction.
Tom McCabe, interim director of environment, transport and development at Norfolk County Council, yesterday apologised for the delays drivers had experienced at peak times since the work started.
But he added: “The scale of the work to improve the junction means it’s necessary to close one eastbound lane of the A47 for a 1.5 mile stretch to the east of Norwich, and this is due to stay in place till April 2015.
“During rush-hour periods this means traffic will generally be heavy - outside of these times, so far, the traffic has been moving along well.
“We have been monitoring the situation and are looking to see if there’s anything we can do to reduce queuing and delays at peak times.
“We will make whatever changes we can to ease the problems experienced this week.
“In terms of helping the situation, I’d just ask people to be aware that there may be delays at rush-hour periods and, if their journey doesn’t have to be made during these peak times, to consider waiting to get in their car.”
The Postwick hub is seen as the gateway to the Norwich northern distributor road, if permission is granted.
Norfolk County Council wants to build the £148.5m, 19.5km dual-carriageway road from the A47 at Postwick, to the A1067 Fakenham Road, to the north west.
The government has agreed to contribute £86.5m and fast-tracked it through the planning system.
The council says the road will bring a huge economic boost and improvements such as a rapid-bus transit in Norwich. But critics say it will lead to rat-running and concrete over swathes of the countryside.
The area around Postwick is also earmarked for 1,600 new houses in the years ahead. Some 600 homes have already got planning permission.
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