Ring roads jams to ease, say council bosses, but work branded poor use of money
PUBLISHED: 09:32 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:32 06 February 2020
Long queues because of months of work on part of Norwich's ring road could soon be eased - but critics have said the scheme is a poor use of money.
Council officers say work in the Colman Road/Mile End Road/Unthank Road area will cut congestion once the work is done - but it has been causing tailbacks and jams, particularly in rush hours.
But Liberal Democrat councillors say the £650,000 being spent to make changes to the ring road could lead to bigger jams and increased pollution close to schools.
James Wright, Lib Dem city councillor for Eaton, said: "We do not believe that this work will benefit pedestrians, cyclists and bus users.
"The months of disruption is affecting bus users and, in the longer term, could be a significant risk to children from accidents and increased air pollution when corralled in the centre of the ring road while crossing at the Colman Road schools."
He said the money would have been better spent on promoting sustainable alternatives to cars.
And people in streets such as Muriel Road, Highland Road and Mornington Road say, even though their roads are meant to be closed, that has not stopped drivers stuck in queues from rat-running through their streets.
One man who lives in Mornington Road said: "Because they're not blocked off at the Colman Road end, there's a ridiculous amount of traffic using a small side street as a short cut to avoid using the ring road, adding to the already greater congestion on Christchurch Road."
A Transport for Norwich spokesman said: "The project is progressing well but we appreciate some frustration will be caused while work is carried out.
"Delays for motorists and public transport will be reduced in the longer term, which will improve air quality, as well as providing additional safety features for pedestrians and we ask for patience from the public while the improvements are carried out.
"We always seek to avoid road closures and minimise congestion where possible and are pleased to report the two way lights will soon be removed for a number of weeks, allowing ring road traffic to flow more freely."
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First's 25 buses are facing diversions, but bosses said the scheme would bring benefits in the long-term.
Paul Martin, commercial manager at First Eastern Counties said "Understandably the works to the ring road are having an effect on our Blue Line services, but the delays are being mitigated by the measures both ourselves and Norfolk County Council have put in place.
"We have worked in partnership at both the design and planning stages, to ensure that what is being delivered benefits public transport users, and that disruption during the works is kept to a minimum.
"This joint approach is welcomed, especially with the prospect of further work to introduce dedicated infrastructure for buses, as part of the Transforming Cities Bid on the horizon."
What work is being done?
The ring road work, including changes to traffic light timings and alterations to crossings, will continue until Friday, April 17.
Until Friday, March 6, right turns are banned from both sides of Unthank Road on to Colman Road/Mile End Road.
Right turns from Colman Road/Mile End Road into Unthank Road are also banned in both directions.
On Saturday, February 22 and Sunday, February 23, some parts of Unthank Road will be closed.
There will also be periods where roads close between 7pm and 6am.
Colman Road/Mile End Road will have closures each night from Monday, February 24 until Friday, March 6, between Newmarket Road and North Park Avenue.
From Monday, March 30 until Friday, April 10, Colman Road will shut at night from the Unthank Road and North Park Avenue junctions. South Park Avenue will also be closed at that time.