Two Wheels, December 12, 2014: Why I’m glad our bit of the A47 was ignored

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It looks as if West Norfolk’s been left out again as the Highways Agency is granted £300 million to upgrade the A47. Junctions at Peterborough, Guyhirn and Yarmouth are going be upgraded and a new dual carriageway section between Dereham and Acle is to be built.

Far be it from me to suggest that West Norfolk doesn’t need investment in roads as it’s not a marginal Conservative seat! It does seem as though our area has been studiously avoided.

Is that really such a bad thing though? Whilst we would probably all like to have seen some safety improvements it’s now known and accepted (even by the Department for Transport) that upgrading roads leads to more traffic. What happens is that people hear about the new road. “There’s a nice new dual carriageway that will get me to Norwich five minutes quicker – I’ll drive there rather than stay in Lynn and do my shopping.”

Where’s all that traffic going to go? It certainly isn’t going to stay driving up and down the A47. It’s going to go into our towns, driving around looking for parking spaces, causing more pollution and congestion in the process.

There are some bits of the A47 that could do with being bypassed. The stretch through Middleton and East Winch is a good example. The problem is – where would a bypass go? It’s a choice between going across the golf course (that won’t happen, politicians play a lot of golf!), prime agricultural land or through the village. Just bypassing two villages would probably take up most of that £300 million.

Another bit I’d really like to see improved is the lethal Broadgate Lane junction near Wisbech where the staggered junction should have been replaced by a bridge years ago.

I’ve seen cyclist after cyclist, many of them schoolchildren dodging the traffic riding between Elm and Wisbech.

Unfortunately it’s either that or face the equally deadly Elme Hall roundabout.

Just a thought. If, instead of just funding roads, that £300 million was seen as a fund to ease the movement of goods and people between the East Midlands and East Anglia what would it best be spent on? Why not reconnect the busy ports of Lynn, Yarmouth and Lowestoft rail freight to the rail freight network? Get some of the lorries off the road and a lot of the A47’s problems are solved.

Maybe consider subsidising bus fares on the X1 to give people a cheaper alternative to driving.

Instead of spending £300 million of OUR money on yet more concrete we should using it to fix our broken transport system.