New hope for Lowestoft traffic solution
09:08 28 March 2014
A temporary one-way system set up during major roadworks in Lowestoft has proved such a success that it could become a long-term solution to the town’s traffic problems.
The emergency traffic order was introduced on Monday after junction improvement work by Suffolk County Council caused major delays and tailbacks on the approach to the A12 Bascule bridge.
But the order – which prevents southbound traffic entering Station Square from Denmark Road – has proved so successful in resolving the chaos that business leaders are now hopeful it might provide the blueprint for a permanent solution to long-standing congestion issues in and around Lowestoft town centre.
Darren Newman, business improvement district manager for Lowestoft Vision, said: “In the past two weeks we received many calls from businesses who have been concerned with congestion in town, its impact and any lasting legacy that this could cause.
“We have been in close contact with the councils and Waveney MP Peter Aldous on the roadworks and have been pleased with the outcome of the traffic order. Since Monday, traffic has been flowing freely and we want to make it clear that Lowestoft is accessible and we are open for business.”
The Highways Agency introduced the order after a request last week by county council leader Mark Bee, and Colin Law, the leader of Waveney District Council.
It meant that the temporary traffic lights set up at the Station Square-Commercial Road junction – which caused long delays for traffic heading north over the Bascule bridge – were removed. However, this led to Denmark Road being closed off to southbound traffic between Katwijk Way and Station Square, with a mile-long diversion put in place.
After two weeks of congestion problems, which saw people arriving late for work and some businesses reporting a downturn in trade, Lowestoft Vision and the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce said they had received positive feedback from their members about the improvements brought about by the new measures.
Both organisations are now planning to approach council officers to discuss short-term measures that could be used to improve traffic flow in the town.
Jim Godfrey, director of LR Godfrey and Buy a Parcel and a Lowestoft Vision board member, said: “We are grateful to those in power for listening and acting on our concerns. Since Monday, there has been a real improvement, which we are grateful for.
“At Lowestoft Vision we are committed to making Lowestoft more accessible and will continue to work with and lobby all partners to ensure the town’s infrastructure is fit for purpose. Visitors and the community need to be able to access the town easily, and I am pleased to see that, since Monday, this has been the case.”
James Reeder, chairman of the chamber of commerce, said that although the traffic order had only been in place a few days, there had already been requests to consider something similar as a permanent measure.
“We would simply ask that Highways authorities review and consider if the layout could be an option for a long-term solution,” he said. “It is very early days, but traffic to the town this week has been dramatically improved and possibly better than it has been for some time. We feel this is a perfect time to trial this as a scheme and receive feedback from all business in the area.”
The roadworks being carried out in Station Square are part of a project by the county council to improve the A12/Commercial Road junction. It had been hoped this would be finished by the end of this month but, as reported last week, it is now expected to continue until May 6.
Mr Bee said he was delighted the traffic order had produced an immediate response.
“We are very conscious of the sensitive traffic situation in Lowestoft and are absolutely committed to working with our partners to reduce the impact of roadworks,” he said. “We welcome this positive feedback from local business owners and will of course continue to monitor the situation closely.
“Over and above these particular works, we are working with Waveney District Council, Peter Aldous and others to find long-term solutions to the issues of congestion in the town. Among many initiatives is the potential for building a new crossing over Lake Lothing, on which we have commissioned work.”
Mr Law added: “It had got to the point where something needed to be done and although Waveney is not responsible for roads, it was clear that we needed to intervene somehow. Working alongside the county council, I am glad that our efforts and intervention have made a difference.”