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Roundabouts lights switch off

PUBLISHED: 15:20 05 February 2009 | UPDATED: 12:57 03 July 2010

Gapton Hall roundabout

Gapton Hall roundabout

CALLS have been made for traffic lights at a notorious bottleneck to be turned off after a technical fault caused them to fail at the weekend, leaving traffic to flow freely.

CALLS have been made for traffic lights at a notorious bottleneck to be turned off after a technical fault caused them to fail at the weekend, leaving traffic to flow freely.

Traffic lights at the Gapton Hall roundabout went out on Saturday and Sunday, meaning traffic was flowing freely.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “There was a power cut in the area that affected the street and traffic lights. A Highways Agency Incident Support Unit (ISU) was deployed to the scene ready to assist traffic should there have been a problem and make the area as safe as possible while the traffic signals were out. We are not aware that traffic was seriously affected.”

And with no reports of major hold-ups or incidents, calls have been made for the Highways Agency to consider switching off the lights for a trial period to see if traffic would flow better without them.

County councillor for Breydon division, Trevor Wainwright, who also attends Gapton Hall Task Force meetings, said: “For years we have been telling the Highways Agency to turn off the lights to see if it would ease congestion. On Saturday and Sunday I drove into Yarmouth from Bradwell without any problem. Everything was flowing and drivers were being responsible. Normally on a Saturday traffic is queued all the way up Gapton Hall Road.”

The Mercury has also been contacted by several readers who said the roundabout appeared to flow better without lights.

Mr Wainwright added: “I'm not convinced switching the lights off would cause more accidents.

“We never had problems before with congestion like we have now. The Highways Agency are adamant it would not make a difference but when the lights go wrong like this weekend the traffic moves a lot quicker.”

Local businessman and borough councillor Mike Butcher said he was not surprised traffic flowed freely without traffic lights and suggested the Highways Agency remove lights from use during off-peak times.

Mr Butcher, who also attends the Gapton Hall Task Force meetings, has always believed the traffic lights have been at the root of congestion problems.

He said: “A trial would provide us with very useful information as you would be able to get a better understanding of how traffic flows. I think perhaps at peak times the lights would need to be kept on.”

Last year the Highways Agency announced a £600,000 package of improvements aimed at easing infamous gridlock at the bottleneck. Work, due to be carried out this year, includes the introduction of hi-tech Mova lights timed to respond to where traffic flow is heaviest. Existing traffic lights will be removed from the Gapton Hall Road junction and lane changes will be made to the northbound and southbound A12,

and road markings and signs improved.

Traffic manager for Norfolk Police, David Law, said police had been unaware of any major problems at the roundabout while the lights had been out of order.

He said: “Before the lights

were installed it was an accident blackspot. The lights have not totally removed accidents but we do not

get injury accidents anymore, they tend to be damage only. The lights resolved one issue with safety because they slow down traffic, but they have created another causing congestion.”

He added if public feeling was strong enough the Highways Agency might consider a trial period without the lights.

What do you think? Would you like to see the traffic lights at Gapton Hall roundabout switched off for a trail period? Write to the Mercury at 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2PA, or email anne.edwards@archant.co.uk.

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