'Competing' roadworks slammed for causing chaos for drivers and traders

Roadworks on St Stephens Street in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Roadworks on St Stephens Street in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant

Planners have been told to learn lessons from the six months of "chaos" across the city caused by multiple roadwork projects taking place at the same time.

Transport for Norwich is a programme of work overseen by Norfolk County Council which is designed to improve transport accessibility and improve air quality.

But the simultaneous works which have taken place as part of this in Riverside Road, Aylsham Road, Cromer Road and St Stephens Street have gridlocked roads.

Experts have also warned it has lost traders business after an already impossible two years.

Works taking place in St Stephens Street as part of a £6.1m revamp 

Works taking place in St Stephens Street as part of a £6.1m revamp - Credit: Ben Hardy

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) said: "Obviously there is a challenge for the city. We want to see regeneration and see some better infrastructure works but we are aware of the impact it has on trading.

"It has been difficult on the back of recovering from Covid.

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director at Norwich BID. Photo: Submitted

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director at Norwich BID. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Archant

"It's an unfortunate piece of timing with overlapping works then the unplanned issue of Sweet Briar Road where the road collapsed.

"This had even more impact on the network and created even more pressure.

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"It is the most disruptive it has been in years."

Norfolk County Council said it works hard to coordinate road closures.

Traffice returns to Sweet Briar Road as the repair work is finished and the road is open.

Traffic returns to Sweet Briar Road after repair work is completed - Credit: Denise Bradley

Sweet Briar Road finally reopened on Friday, May 27 after 99 days of traffic chaos as Anglian Water repaired a water main which burst beneath the route on February 17. 

This exacerbated the impact of ongoing scheduled works taking place as part of Transport for Norwich schemes.

Professor Josh Bamfield, director of the Norwich-based Centre for Retail Research, has warned of the impact the roadworks will have on tourism this summer. 

He said: "The council can't be blamed for what happened with Sweet Briar Road but it does seem as if they have given the go-ahead for too many competing roadworks just after Covid.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre of Retail Research. Picture: Joshua Bamfield

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre of Retail Research. Picture: Joshua Bamfield - Credit: Joshua Bamfield

"It has affected the ability of Norwich to re-establish itself as a fine retail and hospitality sector city.

"No one is saying we do not need to repair the roads but they are creating a degree of chaos and I think long-term planning is needed.

"If people are going to suffer from roadworks then one set rather than several would be ideal in the future." 

The county council has said plans for thousands of new homes and jobs in the city over the next decade has created a need for new infrastructure to prepare the area for this growth in population.

It hopes to connect new and existing communities to centres of employment. 

A big increase in traffic in Norwich. Pictured is the A146 Barrett Road from the Tuckswood roundabou

A big increase in traffic in Norwich. Pictured is the A146 Barrett Road from the Tuckswood roundabout. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

But Chrissie Rumsby, Labour county councillor for Mile Cross, said decisions are being made without enough attention being given to practicality.

She added: "I understand we have got to make things easier for cyclists and public transport because of climate change but I do think some common sense has to come into it. 

Chrissie Rumsby, Labour candidate for Mile Cross. Pic: Labour Party.

Chrissie Rumsby, councillor for Mile Cross, said racists were the last thing the area needed. - Credit: Labour Party

"Wherever you go at the moment you seem to get stuck in roadworks which does not reduce carbon emissions.

"There is money that has to be used within a certain amount of time but you do wonder what is going to be the consequences of all that." 

Ongoing roadworks at the junction of Thorpe Road and Riverside Road 

Ongoing roadworks at the junction of Thorpe Road and Riverside Road - Credit: Ben Hardy

Among the frustrated motorists is Ruth Grindrod, 65, who lives in Loddon and drives into Norwich every day.

She said: "Parts of the city are now no-go areas.

"Roads are constantly closed and workmen can often be spotted working sporadically or not at all."

Ruth Grinrod 

Ruth Grinrod - Credit: Storm Photography

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "Better road and path surfaces, new drainage, improved gas or water pipes, faster broadband, new pedestrian crossings and cycle paths all mean there will be a need for roadworks. 

"By carrying out works in the summer we avoid severe weather that could cause long overruns in planned works, keeping closures as short as possible while work is carried out and ensuring our road are maintained to a high standard for all highways users."

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Bus said the company has been working closely with the county council regarding the works taking place. 

The works have led to additional congestion and late running on bus services at peak times. 

Head of operations at Frist Chris Speed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Head of operations at Frist Chris Speed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Mr Speed said: "Roadworks can be frustrating to all road users but they need to be carried out."