Road closures ahead as bus lane put in less than a year ago is to be moved
- Credit: Archant
A bus lane put in place less than a year ago looks likely to be moved - because so many drivers are flouting it and triggering delays.
The bus lane in Market Avenue/Rose Lane, near the Castle Mall car park entrance, was introduced as part of the £2.75m traffic shake-up around the Prince of Wales Road area.
The work, led by Transport for Norwich, saw changes to Rose Lane and Cattle Market Street, along with the creation of the bus lane leading to Market Avenue.
But, at a meeting next week, councillors will be asked to agree to move that bus lane, because so many drivers are entering it to get to the car park for the Castle Quarter shopping mall.
That was previously the lane which drivers used to get to the shopping centre's car park and it seems old habits die hard. Bus bosses are frustrated that drivers continue to illegally use the bus lane and queue up for the car park in it.
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They have asked council bosses to consider moving the bus lane when resurfacing of the area takes place next month, switching it into the right hand lane.
Bus operators had hope that a bus lane stretching all the way from Market Avenue to Castle Meadow could be created, but council officers say traffic modelling shows that would "severely impact" other traffic, as it would cut the lanes available to general traffic to two.
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They are recommending that the Transforming Cities joint committee agrees to a lane which stops short of the junction with Castle Meadow, which they say would mean there would still be three lanes for general traffic at the Castle Meadow/Prince of Wales Road lights.
Both options would mean the left hand lane would be dedicated to drivers heading to park at the Castle Quarter.
Because the work would be done at the same time as resurfacing work, the only extra costs would be new signs, council officers say.
Roads will have to be closed while the work is done.
Martin Wilby, chair of the Transforming Cities joint committee, which is made up of city and county councillors, said: "We recognise now is the opportune time for committee members to consider future arrangements for both the car park and buses coming into Castle Meadow whilst resurfacing works in this area are carried out."
Paul Martin, commercial manager at First Eastern Counties said: "We have worked with our colleagues at Norfolk County Council to put forward proposals that will allow buses to access Castle Meadow without being impacted by general traffic.
"We have, at times, experienced issues both with cars blocking the bus lane and with the interaction between them and buses entering the Castle Mall car park, both proposals will address these issues.
"We would however, like to see a full length bus lane initiative introduced, as a part length option is not likely to resolve the issue, resulting in buses still having to queue to get into Castle Meadow.
"Getting held up at this junction inevitably results in longer journey times, which is something we are jointly trying to address through the Transforming Cities bid.
"Due to the works taking place on Prince of Wales Road, buses travelling into the city from Tombland are running via Rose Lane and Market Avenue.
"Collectively, we agreed that by making the inside lane buses only, it should keep delays to a minimum."
When will the roads close?
The six days of resurfacing work and to move the bus lane is due to start next month - with road closures in place day and night.
The work will start on Sunday, March 8, with Market Avenue, Bank Plain and the northbound Castle Meadow completely closed.
Upper King Street will be shut from its junction with Prince Of Wales Road from 6am on Sunday, March 8 until 6am on Monday, March 9.
Council bosses said access for pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained throughout but there will be some disruption to vehicle access for people who live in the area.
And access for bus and taxis to and from Castle Meadow will be restricted on Sunday, March 8.
Evening access to the Market Avenue entrance of the Castle Quarter car park will be restricted between Sunday, March 8 and Wednesday, March 11, although vehicles will be able to exit via level N and Farmers Avenue.