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Drivers in for an easier ride

PUBLISHED: 18:35 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:59 03 July 2010

FRUSTRATED motorists have been promised an easier ride with the announcement of major improvements to a notorious traffic blackspot.

Details were announced this week of the £600,000 road scheme at the Gapton Hall roundabout in Great Yarmouth.

FRUSTRATED motorists have been promised an easier ride with the announcement of major improvements to a notorious traffic blackspot.

Details were announced this week of the £600,000 road scheme at the Gapton Hall roundabout in Great Yarmouth.

The roundabout has become infamous for traffic jams and gridlock, but now transport bosses are finally promising to ease the congestion.

Work is due to start next year on the Highways Agency funded project that is designed to provide large reductions in queuing time.

It would see the introduction of 'intelligent' high-tech Mova lights on the A12 and roundabout, timed to respond to where the traffic flow is heaviest.

Existing traffic lights will be removed from the Gapton Hall Road junction, lane changes made to the northbound and southbound A12 and road markings and signs improved.

The new layout takes into account increased traffic from the town's outer harbour, but not further housing or business developments, up to 2015.

Speaking at this week's Gapton Hall taskforce meeting Philip Watkins, chief executive of 1st East urban regeneration company, said: “As presented the plan is flawed if the impact of major development has not been factored in.

“I am quite surprised we have provided everything asked for, but are told it is not robust enough.

“That chunk of information is still valid and would give a better outcome than a projection which ignores it.”

The report was carried out by transport consultants Atkins for the county council and Highways Agency.

The council's highways manager Laurie Egan said: “The 1st East developments are not through planning so there is no detail on the traffic flows they would generate.

“The scheme has been developed to address current issues and improve road capacity; it will not solve all Yarmouth's traffic problems, but does help address a key congestion location.”

Amongst the options rejected in the report were a hamburger layout that would have seen a road going straight across the roundabout and returning to a give way system.

Problems with the site, partly caused by constructing the roundabout on polystyrene blocks, add to the difficulty of making changes.

A pedestrian footbridge with disabled access over the A12 would cost around £1.2m and building a subway was described by Atkins as “very difficult and expensive.”

Instead new signals and guardrail are planned at the pedestrian crossing on the southbound A12.

Borough council head of planning and development Peter Warner said that future developers could be asked to fund improvements to the roundabout and it was important the cost was not too great.

“A well known supermarket chain has an aspiration to open in the Gapton Hall area,” he added.

“The scheme should have enough flexibility for developers to upgrade the roads as part of a planning condition. The costs should be marginal rather than involving megabucks.

“It needs to be established what is the likely opportunity for add-ons and are they likely to be low cost or expensive.

“However, if we say we are unhappy with the scheme we are sending out the wrong message and nothing could get done - we need a roundabout improvement pretty damn quick.”

Taskforce committee chairman Cllr Graham Plant said he would have preferred to have seen a fly-over built, but welcomed the plan.

He added: “It is very pleasing that the Highways Agency has accepted there is a problem at Gapton Hall and the fact they need to spend £600,000 there.

“It shows that the taskforce was right in pushing for this work, I think these Mova lights are a very clever idea.”

.

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