Road diversions causing gridlock because signs are 'all wrong'
PUBLISHED: 13:32 26 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:10 27 June 2019
Signs directing motorists away from a "closed" road have been described as confusing and adding to unnecessary gridlock during planned roadworks along a key gateway route.
Essex and Suffolk Water is carrying out works along Southtown Road in Great Yarmouth to replace water mains being moved to make way for an Environment Agency flood defence project.
Motorists were caught out yesterday (Tuesday, June 25) when signs appeared announcing the carriageway towards Gorleston was closed, diverting traffic around Pasteur Road and the bypass.
But Eva Howkins, owner of Fitness 2000, said, in fact, the road was completely open as far as her business, Better Furniture, the Rumbold Arms, the Shell Garage and Jewsons - but motorists had to pass three "road-closed" signs to find that out.
Instead anyone wanting to access her gym from the Yarmouth direction was taking the diversion and trying to access Southtown Road from the Gorleston side which was open as usual.
As a result the Yarmouth-bound carriageway was at a standstill for much of the first day - clogged with vehicles which could have used the road as normal from the north.
Miss Howkins said: "The signs say Southtown Road is closed but it is not closed.
"Everything says 'road ahead closed' so my members are trying to get in from the other way. But Southtown Road is exactly as it always was.
"The road signs are all totally wrong.
"As you come over Haven Bridge it says 'road closed' so no-one is turning left.
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"It is just confusing for everyone. Southtown Road going north is completely blocked with people who could have accessed it from Yarmouth.
"Normally at 5.30pm my car park is chokka, but there were about ten cars there yesterday. And that is only day one."
Miss Howkins said Better Furniture had paid £500 for a sign saying they were open.
And while she had been speaking to the company behind the traffic management element of the scheme she was uncertain if any of the signage would be changed.
"All I really want is for the public to know Southtown Road is open. It is not until you get right to the other end it is closed," she added.
A spokesman for Essex and Suffolk Water said: ""As part of a project being carried out by the Environment Agency, we are diverting a water main along Southtown Road.
"To keep the area safe, we have a lane closure in place which we anticipate will be removed by Friday July 19.
"We appreciate the disruption this is causing for motorists and are doing our best to try and get the work finished as quickly as possible.
"We are working closely with Norfolk County Council and the signs that we have in place to warn drivers in advance of the lane closure, are in accordance with the Highways recommendation.
"We have somebody on site from 7.00am until 7.00pm who will help to keep the traffic flowing and we now also have 'open as usual' signs in place to help local businesses."