West Norfolk roads earmarked for 40mph zones in pilot safety plan

Fuel or Oil slick on the A149 through Heacham to Hunstanton. www.lynnnews.co.uk/buyaphoto ENGANL00120121204134115

Fuel or Oil slick on the A149 through Heacham to Hunstanton. www.lynnnews.co.uk/buyaphoto ENGANL00120121204134115

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A pilot scheme which could reduce the speed limit on many West Norfolk roads to 40mph has moved a step closer this week.

Officials have stressed that the proposal, which was supported at a meeting of the county’s road casualty reduction board on Tuesday, is in its early stages and would require government approval before coming into force.

And they say new rules could come into effect in late 2016 at the earliest, if the necessary support and funding can be obtained.

The plan covers a large area of north-western Norfolk, the boundaries of which are marked by the A148 and A149.

Under the plans, current speed limits would remain unchanged on the A148 and the stretch of the A149 between Lynn and Hunstanton.

But the proposals do allow for the limit on the north coastal stretch of the A149 from Hunstanton to Sheringham to be reduced to 40mph.

A similar restriction is also proposed for most rural roads outside of built-up areas, while the limit on B roads would be lowered to 50mph.

Tracy Jessop, Norfolk County Council’s assistant director of Highways and transport, believes the plan could have wider social and economic, as well as road safety, benefits.

She said yesterday: “What we’re trying to do is create a sense of place so that people drive more appropriately in those areas. We think this may help us to do that.”

If approved, the pilot scheme would cost around £300,000 to implement.

It is envisaged that half the money would come from the Department for Transport, with the other half coming from safety camera partnership funds.

Ms Jessop said talks with the government will not begin until after the general election in May. It is hoped more detailed plans could be brought before councillors this autumn.

However, she admitted that one possible stumbling block could be the way in which drivers are told of any lower speed limits that are in force.

In most areas, the current law requires lower speed limits to be notified through regular repeater signs.

But Ms Jessop said making and siting sufficient signs to cover the proposed pilot area would cost more than the project itself. She said an “innovative” solution needed to be found with the government.