Could £6.2m road shake-up actually increase congestion for drivers?
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Concerns have been raised that a £6.2m project to make one of Norwich's busiest roads safer and to speed up buses could lead to more congestion for car drivers.
Norfolk County Council highways officers said the changes could shave two minutes off journey times for buses.
On the section from Longwater Lane to Bowthorpe Roundabout, two new bus lanes are proposed, while the speed limit would be cut from 40mph to 30mph.
The project also includes the introduction of new mobility hubs - where people could catch buses or borrow cars and bicycles.
At a meeting of the Transport for Norwich committee, made up of councillors from Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and Broadland and South Norfolk district councils, it was unanimously agreed to put the plans out for consultation.
Jeremy Wiggin, Transport for Norwich manager, said, while bus services have currently been reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, the aspiration was for 10 to be running each hour in both directions.
However, Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton, told Thursday's meeting: "The proposals are likely to attract reservations and concern from people in Costessey and Bowthorpe.
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"It may well be that bus services increase, but there is already huge traffic congestion throughout the day in Dereham Road, in the area between Norwich Road and Gurney Road.
"I think among many, there is a feeling the inbound bus lane could make matters worse."
But Mike Stonard, Labour city council cabinet member for sustainable development, welcomed the scheme.
He said: "This builds on the significant improvements we have made on Dereham Road bus corridor over many years.
"This will add to that by improving bus journey times and reliability and these are important ingredients in encouraging more people to use public transport."
The scheme could also see speed limits on Larkman Lane cut from 30mph to 20mph, with a new cycle route across Dereham Road to Marl Pit Lane.