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Revealed: How traffic levels have changed on every Norfolk A-road

PUBLISHED: 07:44 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:39 19 November 2018

Traffic on the A47 Norwich southern bypass has soared in the last five years, according to DfT figures. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Traffic on the A47 Norwich southern bypass has soared in the last five years, according to DfT figures. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Norfolk’s main roads are slowly clogging up as a record number of vehicles take to the streets.

Latest Department for Transport figures show an unprecedented volume of vehicles on our A-roads with particularly big increases in vans in the last five years - thought to be driven by the rise in online shopping.

Counts at more than 200 spots on A-roads in Norfolk and Waveney show traffic up by 9pc between 2012 and 2017.

On some stretches it has fallen, but on three-quarters of the 200 spots traffic volumes have risen.

Explore the map to see how it has changed on the roads where you live.

The NDR should lead to less traffic in Norwich city centre but led to environmental protests. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe NDR should lead to less traffic in Norwich city centre but led to environmental protests. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

There have been big increases on the A11 around Thetford, the A47 south of Norwich and the A146 near Beccles.

At the busiest junctions around Norwich, including Thickthorn, Longwater and Trowse the volume of vehicles has also rocketed.

But in the city centre traffic on the inner ring road has fallen, apart from near Carrow Road.

A spokesman for Transport for Norwich, meanwhile, said closing St Stephens Street to general traffic had slashed vehicles on Rampant Horse Street by three-quarters.

Green Party councillor Denise Carlo said the numbers showed the effectiveness of closing parts of the city centre to traffic.

But she added they also proved that building new roads was like “turning on the money tap with the bath plug left out”.

“New roads quickly fill up with traffic and lead to demands for more road building at a substantial cost,” she said.

The A11 roundabout by the Thetford Sainsbury’s has seen the biggest rise in traffic volumes of 66pc, followed by the Thetford bypass.

The A148 at Hillington where traffic has increased by a third in five years. Picture: Matthew UsherThe A148 at Hillington where traffic has increased by a third in five years. Picture: Matthew Usher

Mark Rutterford, from East Anglia Swift Transport in Thetford, said congestion on the A11 was worst on the Mundford Road roundabout as well as at Thickthorn.

Traffic volumes were also up by a quarter on the A11 between Ketteringham and Cringleford and on the A47 Norwich southern bypass.

There have been lots of new housing development south of Norwich and at Longwater, driving that increase.

One of the biggest rises, at 35pc, has been on the A148 Fakenham Road at Hillington.

Flashback to 2014 when then Prime Minister David Cameron visited work on dualling the A11 at Elveden with MP for South West Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss. The work has seen the biggest increase in traffic volumes around Thetford. Picture: Denise BradleyFlashback to 2014 when then Prime Minister David Cameron visited work on dualling the A11 at Elveden with MP for South West Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss. The work has seen the biggest increase in traffic volumes around Thetford. Picture: Denise Bradley

Philippa Sewell, clerk at Hillington Parish Council, said residents complained more about traffic than anything else in the village.

“One of the issues is the noise,” she said. “We have asked the County Council for high quality road surfacing to reduce the noise.”

She said a new 600-home development planned further down the A148 near King’s Lynn at Knight’s Hill was likely to add further traffic.

On the A146 at Beccles and the A143 at nearby Gillingham traffic was also up by a third,

The A11 at Elveden. Traffic on the road around Thetford is up by 60pc since the road was dualled. Picture: Matthew UsherThe A11 at Elveden. Traffic on the road around Thetford is up by 60pc since the road was dualled. Picture: Matthew Usher

But Claire Boyne, from Beccles Town Council, said they rarely received complaints about traffic on the A146. “The town has become busier but the road is on the periphery,” she said.

The figures also show the rise is not just being driven by more cars.

The biggest increase is among light goods vehicles which are up by almost a quarter in the five-year period.

HGVs, meanwhile, have increased by 10pc and cars by 7pc. Buses and coaches have fallen by 16pc, reflecting cuts to bus services.

Earlier this year councils warned that online shopping was causing roads to be worn out by delivery vans.

In March the Local Government Association (LGA) said the Government should give councils two pence per litre of existing fuel duty to spend on roads.

In some areas traffic volumes fell from 2012 to 2017, with decreases at 53 of the 202 spots counted.

The A1042 running through Thorpe St Andrew saw the biggest decline of 33pc.

The opening of the NDR, Broadland Northway, in April 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe opening of the NDR, Broadland Northway, in April 2018. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Other big fallers are the A1067 Drayton Road in Norwich, the A1075 at Shipdham Road in Toftwood and the Acle New Road in Great Yarmouth.

The DfT statistics are an estimate of the number of vehicle miles travelled on more than 200 different stretches of main roads.

The annual volume of traffic is calculated by multiplying the annual average daily flow of vehicles by the length of road and by the number of days in the year.

The average daily flow is worked out by counts and estimates.

A Transport for Norwich spokesman added: “We plan for the future in a number of ways, including easing congestion by taking traffic off busy town and city streets and securing investment in new highway schemes to support the economy.”

•What drivers say

We asked readers where they thought the worst areas for traffic in Norfolk were.

Caroline Hannington said she had noticed a “huge increase” in traffic this year.

“Junctions on main roads are really difficult to access now except in the evening,” she said. “There are jams and hold-ups everywhere.

“Last weekend there was a queue to get into Sainsbury’s Longwater.”

Jock Harris agreed and described the Longwater roundabout in Costessey as a “nightmare”.

The DfT figures show a 10pc increase in traffic volumes there from 2012 to 2017.

Alexander Jackson said on our Facebook page: “I think the bigger issue is how full are the roads.

“One incident between Longwater and Thickthorn on the A47 can gridlock south and west Norwich for hours.”

Lucie Oakes wrote that the A11 was “in a state”

Clint Smith said: “Horsford is at a standstill every morning since the NDR opened.”

•Will NDR mean more or less traffic?

The latest traffic volume figures, for 2017, were counted before the NDR opened north of Norwich.

That means we will have to wait until next year to see the full impact of the 12.5-mile dual carriageway on traffic volumes.

One of the arguments in favour of building the £200-million road was to reduce traffic in Norwich.

But these figures show volumes were already falling in the city centre before it opened, driven perhaps by the city centre road changes.

Now open, the NDR, which has been renamed Broadland Northway, should lead to further traffic falls already seen in places such as Thorpe St Andrew.

But Green Party councillor Denise Carlo, whose party opposed the new road, said it would only lead to more queues on the feeder roads around it and no decrease in traffic volumes on the outer ring road.

She called on the County Council to invest more in public transport.

A council spokesman said: “In Norwich, work within the centre was designed to reduce levels of through traffic. For example, the pedestrianisation of Westlegate and removal of general traffic from St Stephens Street have had the direct impact of significantly reducing vehicle numbers to make the area a more pleasant place to be.”

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