Gridlocked drivers blast ‘intolerable’ A47 roadworks congestion
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Fuming drivers stuck in lengthy queues have hit out at congestion caused by major roadworks on the A47.
Diversions due to £5m southern bypass resurfacing and repair work on the edge of Norwich have brought long delays and gridlocked junctions.
Traffic between the A11 Thickthorn interchange and Trowse had been forced into Norwich on the smaller roads, including Newmarket Road and the A146 outer ring road, leading to “intolerable” tailbacks, particularly in morning and evening rush hours.
The project, which is due to continue until August, has been causing regular traffic jams since it began on May 4.
On Monday, diversions that had been in place since the start of June were replaced with lane closures, a 40mph speed limit and a two-way contraflow system that will remain in place until June 22.
Motorists have been left particularly frustrated after reporting seeing no maintenance work taking place despite the lengthy lane closures.
Michael Stacey said: “It’s bad enough when there is actually roadworks happening when it’s a busy time of the year, but on Sunday there was at least two miles coned off westbound with no works ongoing and no workers there. Therefore no justification for the lane to be closed for such a long distance.”
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Dave Dack, a Norwich lorry driver, who described himself as “boiling in the heat” after enduring miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic, said: “The congestion, delays and loss of productivity is intolerable.
“Why are there not two crews working 24 hours to speed the job up? Why has it taken a week to simply set up a contra-flow system? Why was it done overnight when labour costs are at a premium?”
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“These questions need answering and details made public so that the people of Norfolk can at least understand the reasons for such incredible inconvenience.”
Another motorist tweeted: “Highways England has the A47 for miles when not a single worker is actually there or working at all.
“It's completely unacceptable to be closing 50pc of the available road lanes when no work is being carried out at all.”
Highway England said as well as “essential resurfacing” the project includes additional maintenance and repairs to safety barriers, replacement of road markings and reflective studs and new road signs.
It said doing all the work at the same time will reduce the number of times there would be disruption on the key route, used by lorries and holiday traffic heading to Great Yarmouth as well as local commuters.
Highways England project manager Christopher Eglinton said: "The resurfacing and barrier repair work on the A47 between Postwick and Thickthorn will mean safer and smoother journeys for drivers.
"To complete the essential maintenance work a combination of night time closures, day time lane closures, 24/7 contraflow and a speed restriction of 40mph have been implemented to keep our work force and drivers safe.
"We understand that roadworks can be frustrating and we'd like to reassure drivers we're doing everything we can to keep disruption to local communities and businesses to a minimum. We expect the work will be complete by mid-August."
The work has seen knock-on congestion on city routes with heavy traffic and long tailbacks at Harford Bridge, Daniels Road and the junctions at Ipswich Road and Hall Road.
Sophie Johns, who commutes between Costessey and Long Stratton, said: “All the roads leading on and off to the A47 have been gridlocked, it has been an absolute nightmare grinding through the city when I usually just use the A47.
“Hopefully it will be a bit better now the diversion is over but with lanes closed there are still long tailbacks.”
Work is set to continue with 8pm-6am overnight closures and diversions eastbound between Thicktorn and Trowse on June 22-27, and from Thickthorn to Postwick eastbound from June 28-July 2.
There will also be a two-way contraflow in place between Postwick and the A140 junction from July 2-10.