Roadworks put pressure on town
Laura Bagshaw GREAT Yarmouth remains open for business, despite fears that major roadworks would cripple the town's infrastructure and deter shoppers. A £1m project to strengthen roads around Haven Bridge began on Saturday and immediately sparked traffic chaos, with the town coming to a virtual standstill.
GREAT Yarmouth remains open for business, despite fears that major roadworks would cripple the town's infrastructure and deter shoppers.
A £1m project to strengthen roads around Haven Bridge began on Saturday and immediately sparked traffic chaos, with the town coming to a virtual standstill.
The gridlock was repeated on Monday, where thumb twiddling was the order of the day for motorists, with drivers queuing for more than an hour-and-a-half to get out of town.
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However, by Tuesday motorists had got the message and the congestion had calmed.
The police's area traffic manager David Law said that after a few difficult days traffic was now running a lot smoother.
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He said: “People have found alternative places to park in Cobholm and Southtown and are walking into work. Getting in and out of town during the day isn't too bad. The biggest problem is people leaving in the evening.
“The obvious problem is congestion at Fullers Hill, which gets busy even without roadworks. We would never be able to control the congestion because where you could ease it in one direction you would make it worse in another.”
Yesterday, a four-vehicle crash closed the Acle Straight, sparking yet further delays for drivers in the rush hour - already affected by the roadworks.
The incident happened just before 7.30am close to the Stracey Arms, and emergency services were called to the scene. No one was seriously injured and the road was reopened by 8.45am.
Nick Spencer, manager of Market Gates Shopping Centre, said the roadworks had not deterred shoppers from Yarmouth and in fact had kept them in town.
He said: “Shoppers coming into the town during the day have told me they sailed through without problems. I don't believe it's affecting trade at the moment. If anything it's keeping people in town who would normally shop at the retail parks.”
Mr Spencer said the town was buzzing on Saturday: “We were amazed at how busy it was and a lot of those people were visitors.”
He added recent retail figures for some shops showed a rise in sales signalling a peak time for the shopping centre where a multi-million pound extension is almost complete and where locals eagerly await the opening of retail giant Debenhams at the end of the month. Existing tenants New Look move into larger premises next week.
Since Saturday, north and southbound traffic on South Quay has been reduced to single lane controlled from Yarmouth Way to North Quay, outside Haven Bridge House.
Traffic has been unable to turn left onto Haven Bridge from South Quay and instead has been diverted to North Quay and Acle New Road to access the town via Breydon Bridge.
Phase one is due to finish today and tomorrow work will begin on phase two - Hall Quay and a section of North Quay opposite Haven Bridge House (southbound).
During this phase traffic will be unable to enter Yarmouth via Haven Bridge although traffic can leave the town on the bridge.
Project bosses said they had come across a few problems due to bad weather on Sunday as well as finding unexpected damage to the roads core surface which has now been repaired.
Highways project manager David Allfrey said: “We had a few problems with various things at the weekend but we have managed to get back on programme.”
The four remaining phases of work are due to be completed by early November. Work to strengthen part of Southgates Road will begin on November 8 and be carried out over three weekends.
w For more information visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/hallquay or to raise a concern contact Dave Barley via the customer service centre on 0844 8008009.
Pictures: Laura Bagshaw